Spread the love

Questions persist about the crash of the Russian military plane

Photo: Associated Press This photo taken from a video filmed by a Russian witness and verified shows the crash of the Russian plane near Yablonovo.

Stanislav Doschitsyn – Agence France-Presse to kyiv

January 25, 2024

  • Europe

Many uncertainties remain on Thursday, the day after the crash of a Russian military plane near the Ukrainian border: Moscow accuses Kiev, without evidence, of having knowingly shot down an aircraft which was transporting , according to Russian authorities, 65 Ukrainian prisoners.

On Wednesday, an Il-76 transport plane crashed near the Russian village of Yablonovo, 45 km from the border with Ukraine in the Belgorod region, killing all 74 occupants, according to Russian authorities.

According to them, 65 Ukrainian prisoners who were going to be exchanged were there, with a crew of six people and three Russian soldiers.

In a press release, the Russian Investigative Committee announced Thursday evening the opening of an investigation for “terrorism”.

According to this Committee, responsible for the main investigations in the country, “during the inspection of the accident site, human remains and the plane's flight recorders were found” by the investigators.

Investigators repeated the version put forward by Moscow since Wednesday, according to which “the plane was attacked by an anti-aircraft missile from Ukrainian territory”.

However, Russia has not provided any proof of the identity of the passengers, nor demonstrated that Ukraine knew who was on board the plane.

The Ukrainian human rights commissioner, one of the people responsible for the prisoner exchanges, Dmytro Loubinets, therefore called on Thursday the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to go “inspect the scene” of the 'crush.

However, he said he was “convinced” that Moscow would not allow “anyone […] to see the site”.

The ICRC, refusing any “speculation”, claimed “not to know what happened”.

kyiv did not confirm having shot down the plane, but stressed its desire to continue targeting military targets on Russian territory.

And Ukrainian military intelligence (GUR) insisted on the lack of “reliable and complete information” regarding the plane’s passengers. President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for an international investigation.

Russia “responsible”

The Ukrainian human rights commissioner noted that Russia was in all cases “responsible for the safety” of detainees, according to the Geneva Convention.

Dmytro Loubinets also stated “that there was nothing to indicate that there were so many people on board”.

No images showing the bodies of crash victims have been published by the authorities or on the Telegram channels of Russian military experts.

kyiv acknowledges that a prisoner exchange was planned, but claims to have “not been informed” of the need to secure the airspace in the crash zone.

On Thursday, the country's special services (SBU) announced that they were opening an investigation into the crash, but any investigation seems difficult, as the aircraft was on Russian territory.

Russian investigators have recovered two black boxes, state agency Ria Novosti reported, citing a source in the emergency services.

Moscow, for its part, obtained an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council at 10 p.m. GMT on Thursday (5 p.m. in Quebec).

A sign of uncertainty and numerous questions, international reactions have been rather rare.

French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Christophe Lemoine said he was “not able to say whether the Russian assertions are true or not.” “Russia has accustomed us to lying on these subjects,” he added.

MH17, Prigozhin

The Belgorod region, where the crash took place, is regularly targeted by Ukrainian strikes in retaliation for numerous Russian attacks.

kyiv has already claimed responsibility for the destruction of Russian aircraft which until recently seemed beyond the reach of Ukrainian weapons.

Last week, the country said it had shot down two Russian planes, which Moscow neither confirmed nor denied.

Russia has been involved in several air disasters, the circumstances of which are still unclear and where the Russian version of events raises many questions.

The most famous case is that of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, shot down over Ukraine in 2014. If all the elements point to the responsibility of fighters in the pay of Moscow, Russia has multiplied the versions to accuse Ukraine of the tragedy which left 298 dead.

A more recent case is that of the plane carrying the leader of the Wagner armed group, Yevgeni Prigozhin, which crashed in August 2023 during a flight between Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

He was killed in this crash, along with his main lieutenants, a few weeks after an abortive mutiny that had enraged Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian authorities have denied any involvement, believing that the plane may have crashed because its passengers detonated a grenade on board.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116