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UN Security Council to hold session on crashed Il-76

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 25, 2024 9:34 AM 3 min read
Illustrative purposes only. A meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 29, 2016, in New York, United States. (Michael Gottschalk/Photothek via Getty Images)
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The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on the crash of the Russian Il-76 transport plane, which Russia claims carried Ukrainian prisoners of war (POW), the Voice of America reported on Jan. 25.

The plane crashed in Russia's Belgorod Oblast on Jan. 24, with the cause of the incident still unclear. While Moscow alleged that 65 Ukrainian POWs were on board the plane during the fatal crash, Ukraine has not confirmed this claim and called for an international investigation.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blamed Ukraine for the incident, labeling it a "terrorist attack" and calling for an emergency session of the UN Security Council.

The meeting will take place at midnight on Jan. 26, Kyiv time, Ukrinform reported.

"The Ukrainian prisoners of war were transported to the Belgorod region in order to conduct yet another swap that was agreed between Moscow and Kyiv," Lavrov alleged in a comment to reporters.

Ukraine war latest: Russia says Ukrainian POWs were in crashed II-76 aircraft, Kyiv calls for investigation
A Russian Il-76 transport aircraft allegedly carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war 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.

"Instead of this, the Ukrainian side launched an air defense missile from the Kharkiv region, it targeted the airplane and was a fatal strike."

Ukraine's military intelligence (HUR) confirmed that a prisoner exchange had been planned for Jan. 24 but did not happen and that it is verifying the Russian claim regarding the Ukrainian POWs.

The military intelligence agency also said the Russian side did not inform it about the need to ensure the safety of the airspace before the plane crashed over Belgorod.

Without neither confirming nor denying Ukraine's involvement in the plane crash, Ukraine's General Staff said in its statement that Kyiv is closely monitoring the launch points of Russian missiles and the logistics of their delivery, especially with the use of military transport aircraft, amid intensifying Russian attacks.

In an evening address on Jan. 24, President Volodymyr Zelensky called for an international investigation and said that Ukraine is trying to find out more details about the incident.

"It is obvious that the Russians are playing with the lives of Ukrainian prisoners, with the feelings of their relatives and with the emotions of our society," Zelensky said, adding that Ukraine had passed on available information to its allies.

The meeting on the Il-76 will be preceded by a close session with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director Rafael Grossi on the situation at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

The IAEA reported last week that Russia has again laid mines around the plant, raising fresh security concerns at the vital power station occupied by Moscow since March 2022.

IAEA chief: Previously removed mines at Zaporizhzhia power plant ‘back in place’
The monitoring mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has discovered mines along the perimeter of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, in a buffer zone between the facility’s internal and external fences, Rafael Grossi, the agency’s director general, said in a statement on Jan. 19…
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