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White House cannot confirm claims that Ukrainian POWs were in Belgorod Oblast plane crash

by Nate Ostiller January 24, 2024 8:35 PM 1 min read
U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby speaks during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on March 21, 2023. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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The White House is aware of claims that Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) were on a Russian Il-76 transport plane that crashed in Belgorod Oblast on Jan. 24 but is "not in a position to confirm them," U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said.

Russian authorities confirmed earlier that the plane had crashed and later claimed that 65 Ukrainian POWs were on board. Ukraine has not confirmed that was the case, although Ukraine's military intelligence (HUR, as it is known in Ukraine) verified that a prisoner swap was planned for Jan. 24.

Ukraine has not taken responsibility for the plane crash.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed that the plane was shot down by Ukrainian air defenses operating from Kharkiv Oblast, and said that all 65 POWs were killed, along with three Russian officers and six crew members.

Kirby said the White House had seen the reports of the crash but had no further insights.

"Obviously (we are) doing the best we can to try to get more clarity and more information on it," he added.

Lavrov calls for emergency UN Security Council meeting over plane crash
Speaking at the UN, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the plane crash a “terrorist attack” and held Ukraine responsible.
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