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Vladimir Putin: Kyiv downed Ukrainian POW plane killing all 74 people on board

 (RUSSIAN INVESTIGATIVE COMMITTEE)
(RUSSIAN INVESTIGATIVE COMMITTEE)

Kyiv was behind the downing of a Russian military transport plane carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war, state media quoted Vladimir Putin saying.

The president reportedly added that a full investigation into who shot down Ilyushin Il-76 on Tuesday morning would be made public within the next few days.

Moscow accuses the Ukrainians of killing 74 people on board, including 65 captured Ukrainian soldiers en route to be swapped for Russian PoWs when the jet came down in the Belgorod region.

“The missiles that shot down the Il-76 with captured Ukrainian armed forces military personnel were launched from Ukrainian territory,” Putin is quoted by TASS in his first comments on the crash.

He claimed either French or American rockets were used in the attack.

RIA, another state media outlet, quoted Mr Putin as saying the intelligence directorate of Ukraine “knew” that its prisoners of war were on board.

Kyiv, while not definitively denying it was involved, has challenged Moscow’s narrative and called for an international investigation.

Western nations have accused Moscow of deception.

On Thursday, Russia’s Investigative Committee said the plane was struck by a Ukrainian-made surface-to-air missile.

Ilyushin Il-76  Russian military transport plane crashes near Ukraine (Host Photo Agency via Getty Imag)
Ilyushin Il-76 Russian military transport plane crashes near Ukraine (Host Photo Agency via Getty Imag)

“The Ukrainian side was officially warned, and 15 minutes before the plane entered the zone they were given complete information,” Andrei Kartopolov, a former general with close ties to Russia's defence ministry told lawmakers, according to the ruling United Russia party.

He said Ukraine's military command confirmed receipt of the warning.

Kartopolov’s assertion contradicted statements by Ukrainian military intelligence that Russia had not informed it about the flight arrangements.

Andriy Yusov, a Ukrainian military intelligence spokesman, said that contrary to practice before previous PoW swaps, Kyiv had received no requests from Russia to refrain from attacks in the airspace where the plane was downed.

“No evidence has been provided for the charges ... Nothing has been shown to prove the wreckage and the presence of people on board,” he said on national television.

Traffic police officers block off a road near the crash site of the Russian Ilyushin Il-76 military transport plane in Belgorod region (REUTERS)
Traffic police officers block off a road near the crash site of the Russian Ilyushin Il-76 military transport plane in Belgorod region (REUTERS)

Conflicting narratives from both sides are a daily feature of a war now nearing the end of its second year.

In this case, the stakes are especially high as it is the deadliest incident of its kind on internationally recognised Russian territory since Russia’s February 2022 invasion.

The United Nations Security Council met on Thursday at the request of Russia to discuss the downed plane.

The UN was not in a position to verify the circumstances of the crash, political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the council.

She said: “What is clear is that the incident took place in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and ongoing war.

“To avoid further escalation, we urge all concerned to refrain from actions, rhetoric, or allegations that could further fuel the already dangerous conflict.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of “playing with the lives of Ukrainian prisoners”.