Ukraine’s Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War said on Jan. 26 that during the planned exchange of POWs two days earlier Moscow was to return to Ukraine 65 people from one of the lists Russian propagandists shared after the crash of Il-76 transport plane in Russia's Belgorod Oblast.
The confirmation came after Russian propagandist Margarita Simonyan published a list of Ukrainian POWs who were allegedly on board the aircraft on Jan. 24. The headquarters did not specify whether this was the mentioned list.
According to the Headquarters Secretary, Dmytro Usov, after Ukraine’s repeated requests to share the list of POWs Russia claims were on the plane, Moscow responded, referring to one of the lists previously published on Russian propaganda sources.
On Jan. 26, Usov, Ukrainian military intelligence (HUR) chief Kyrylo Budanov, and other military and law enforcement officials met with the relatives of the prisoners of war mentioned in the list. After watching the videos allegedly from the crash site published by Russian propagandа sources, family members "did not see any special signs on the body fragments that would indicate that these are their relatives."
"We are collecting and thoroughly analyzing all available information on this matter from many sources. So far, no information indicates that the plane could have carried that many people,” Budanov noted.
He said that Moscow’s version that 65 Ukrainian POWs could have been on the board of the Il-76 for the exchange "still raises many questions."
The day earlier, Ukraine's Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said Russia’s list included prisoners of war who had already been swapped before.
Representatives of the headquarters promised that they would inform the relatives about the POWs’ fate as soon as they have reliable information.
Ukraine's military intelligence confirmed that a prisoner exchange had been planned for Jan. 24 but added that the Russian side had not informed the Ukrainian side about the need to ensure airspace safety over Belgorod before the plane crash.
HUR’s spokesperson Andrii Yusov said Moscow has not passed on information about the Russian Il-76 transport plane crash to the International Committee of Red Cross yet for an investigation.