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Ukraine says it was not informed about need to ensure safety of airspace before plane crash in Belgorod Oblast

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 24, 2024 7:13 PM 2 min read
A Russian Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft flies over Moscow during a parade rehearsal in May 2022. Photo for illustrative purposes (Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Ukraine's military intelligence, or HUR as it is known in Ukraine, said the Russian side did not inform it about the need to ensure the safety of the airspace before a plane crashed over Belgorod that the Russian Defense Ministry claims had Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) on board.  

A Russian Il-72 transport plane crashed in Belgorod Oblast earlier on Jan. 24, which Russian authorities later confirmed. Russia's Defense Ministry then claimed that 65 Ukrainian POWs were on the plane when it crashed.

HUR also confirmed that a prisoner exchange had been planned on Jan. 24, but did not confirm that Ukrainian POWs were on the plane, nor comment on what might have caused the crash.

"We do not have reliable and comprehensive information about who exactly was on board the plane, or how many" people may have potentially been on it, HUR said.

Ukraine fulfilled its part of the prisoner swap, the safety of the Russian POWs was ensured, and they were taken to the agreed-upon exchange point, HUR added.

The Russian side did not notify Ukraine about the necessity to ensure the safety of the airspace around Belgorod, HUR said, which has been done "repeatedly" in the past.

HUR went on to say that it may have been a "deliberate" move by Russia to "create a threat to the life and safety of the prisoners."

Later on Jan. 24, Russian propagandist Margarita Simonyan shared a list of the alleged POWs on the plane.

The Ukrainian media outlet Suspilne analyzed the list that Simonyan shared and confirmed that most of the names were previously mentioned as being POWs or missing persons and that some had appeared in captivity in Russian propaganda videos.

Suspilne could not confirm that those on the list were actually on the plane when it crashed, nor that they were potentially part of a prisoner exchange.

Russia says Ukrainian POWs on crashed Il-76, claim not verified by Ukraine
A Russian Il-76 transport aircraft crashed in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast on Jan. 24 at around 11 a.m. local time, the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing the country’s Defense Ministry.

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