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Ukrainian presidential aide: Moscow manipulating Il-76 crash to slow western air defence deliveries, diverts attention from its war crimes

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak

Russia is manipulating the IL-76 military transport plane crash to slow the transfer of air defense systems to Kyiv, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on national television on Jan. 27.

Read also: Kremlin rejects international probe into IL-76 crash amid Zelenskyy's demand

There is a lack of evidence about the circumstances of the crash, and it is unknown who was on the plane because Moscow is "actively opposing" an international investigation.

"What do I see in this? Two things,” said Podolyak

“The first is to slow down the transfer of the air defense systems to Ukraine. In recent months we have seen a large number of Russian aircraft destroyed. It is important for the Russian Federation to prevent this from happening. They do not want Ukraine to have the opportunity to shoot down Russian aircraft or deploy missile defense systems along the front line.”

Another goal is to divert attention from “the violations of the rules of war and conventions by the Russian military.”

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.

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.

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.

However, the head of Ukraine’s Military Intelligence Directorate (HUR), Andriy Yusov, said a prisoner exchange had been scheduled to take place. “I can state that the exchange planned for today is not going ahead,” he told Radio Svoboda.

Ukraine’s Armed Forces are not currently confirming that they downed the aircraft on the morning of Jan. 24, Armed Forces spokesperson Bohdan Senyk told NV.

Read also: Reserve colonel and military expert comments on Russian IL-76 crash

The General Staff has officially stated that it tracks the launch sites of Russian missiles and the logistics of their delivery, especially by military transport aircraft, and will “continue to take measures to destroy delivery planes and control the airspace in order to destroy the terrorist threat”.

The Russians 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