Russia refuses to return bodies of alleged Il-76 crash casualties to Ukraine — HUR

Photos allegedly from the crash site of the IL-76 in the Belgorod region, published by Russia
Photos allegedly from the crash site of the IL-76 in the Belgorod region, published by Russia

Moscow is refusing to return the bodies of Ukrainian POWs who allegedly died in the Jan. 24 Il-76 military aircraft crash near Belgorod, Ukrainian Defense Intelligence (HUR) spokesman Andriy Yusov told Ukrainian TV broadcasters on Feb. 1.

Read also: POW swap with Russia is now on hold — Kyiv

Yusov said Ukraine has made a corresponding request to Russia, but "the Russian side has not agreed to this."

Ukraine is demanding an unbiased international investigation into the circumstances of the crash and those who were on board.

Yusov emphasized that Ukraine still considers 65 individuals, whom Russia declared dead, as prisoners-of-war. Notably, some of the POWs Moscow claims died in the crash, have been returned to Ukraine in previous exchanges.

On Jan. 31, as part of a major POW exchange, 207 defenders returned to Ukraine. Kyiv later clarified that the swap included everyone who was supposed to be exchanged on Jan. 24, except for the 65 people Russia claims were onboard the crashed plane.

Read also: Russia may have used Ukrainian POWs as human shields in IL-76 plane — HUR

A Russian IL-76 military transport plane, designed to airlift troops, cargo, military equipment, and weapons, crashed in the Korocha district of the southern Belgorod Oblast, which borders Ukraine, on Jan. 24.

Read also: UN unable to verify Ukrainian POWs on Russian IL-76, Ukraine calls for international investigation

A video of the alleged crash appeared on social media. The footage showed the plane catching fire in the air and exploding in a huge fireball when it hit the ground.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that 65 Ukrainian POWs were on board, heading to Belgorod Oblast for a prisoner exchange. Russia accused Ukraine of taking down the plane.

Read also: Monument honoring Russian military attacked by Ukrainian UAV in Belgorod

Ukraine’s General Staff, as quoted by NV’s sister outlet Ukrainska Pravda, said the plane was transporting missiles for Russia’s S-300 air defense systems. There was no mention of prisoners of war.

Russia did not warn Ukraine about the need to secure the airspace near Belgorod, as they had done before. Ukraine was also not informed about the form of delivery of the prisoners, the route, and the number of vehicles.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine