Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024

&Eacute ;plane crash: questions about the Russian version | War in Ukraine

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Volodymyr Zelensky calls for an international investigation.

Agence France-Presse

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, according to Russian authorities, was transporting 65 Ukrainian prisoners.

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

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

The Russian army assures that the aircraft was destroyed by Ukrainian forces who knew however that the prisoners would be taken by plane to Belgorod .

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On Thursday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov once again accused Kiev of a monstrous act.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. (Archive photo)

However, Russia has not provided any evidence of the identity of the passengers, nor demonstrated that the #x27;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 and inspect the site of the crash.

He however said he was convinced that Moscow would not allow anyone […] to see the site. The ICRC, refusing to speculate, said it did not know what happened.

kyiv did not confirm having shot down the plane, but stressed its desire to continue striking military targets on Russian territory. And Ukrainian military intelligence (GUR) insisted on the lack of reliable and complete information regarding the plane's passengers. Volodymyr Zelensky, for his part, called for an international investigation.

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

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Dmytro Loubinets, Human Rights Commissioner of Ukraine, in September 2023 (File photo)

Dmytro Loubinets also claimed that there was no indication that there were so many people on board.

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

Kiev acknowledges that an exchange of prisoners was planned, but assures that it was not informed of the need to secure the airspace in the crash zone.< /p>

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 within the emergency services.

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In the Belgorod region, women gather and lay flowers in memory of those who died in the plane crash .

Moscow, for its part, obtained an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council late Thursday afternoon. A sign of uncertainty and numerous questions, international reactions have been rather rare.

The spokesperson for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Christophe Lemoine said he was unable to say whether the Russian assertions were true or not. Russia has accustomed us to lying on these subjects, he added.

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

Kiev 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 has neither confirmed nor denied.

Russia has been involved in several air disasters whose circumstances 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 group armed Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who crashed in August 2023 during a flight between Moscow and Saint Petersburg. He was killed in that crash, along with his top lieutenants, a few weeks after an abortive mutiny that had enraged Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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

Finally in July 2022, Kiev and Moscow accused each other of the bombing of a prison in Olenivka, in eastern Ukraine occupied by Russia, an attack during in which more than 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war had died.

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