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May 29, 2024

Russia Claims Ukraine Shot Down Military Plane Carrying Dozens of Prisoners of War

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Jan 25, 2024

Key Details of the Event

A Russian military plane crashed near the Ukraine border on January 24th, killing all 74 people on board. Moscow says Ukraine shot the plane down in a “terrorist act”, while Kyiv accused Russia of using the prisoners of war (POWs) as human shields to transport weapons.

The plane, an Ilyushin Il-76 military cargo jet, crashed in bad weather shortly before landing at an airbase in Russia’s Belgorod region, about 22 miles from the border. It was carrying 60 Ukrainian POWs that Russia said were being rotated as part of a prisoner exchange mediated by the UAE.

Russia’s defense ministry said Ukraine was warned ahead of time about the flight path and altitude of the plane. Ukraine denies shooting down the aircraft, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Moscow of intentionally using POWs as human shields while transporting “who knows what” cargo.

Both sides call for international investigations. The UN Security Council will meet on January 26th to discuss the incident at Russia’s request.

Key Details
Plane Type Ilyushin Il-76
Operator Russian Air Force
Passengers 14 crew, 60 Ukrainian POWs
Total Aboard 74
Crash Location Near Belgorod, Russia
Crash Date January 24, 2023

Timeline of Events

  • January 24 – The Russian military transport plane crashes around 1.55 am GMT near the village of Ogurtsy in Russia’s Belgorod region bordering northeast Ukraine. Everyone on board is killed.

  • Russia’s defense ministry says the plane was shot down by Ukraine with two US-made HIMARS rockets during its descent. It says the flight path was shared with Ukraine’s military to ensure its safety.

  • Ukraine denies shooting down the plane. President Zelenskyy says Russia used POWs as “human shields” while transporting “who knows what” on the plane.

  • Both countries call for international investigations into the crash amid disputes over what happened.

  • January 25 – Black boxes from the wreckage are found. The Kremlin vows to take action against Ukraine over the “act of terror”.

  • United Nations announces it will hold a Security Council meeting on January 26th to discuss the plane crash.

  • Russian lawmakers threaten statements to the US Congress and German parliament about the incident if Ukraine’s “crimes” are not investigated properly.

Positions of Russia and Ukraine

Russia’s Position

  • The plane was tracked throughout its flight and Ukraine was warned of its path, altitude and timing. It claims Ukraine knew for certain it was a Russian military plane.

  • They accuse Ukraine of a “terrorist act” by deliberately shooting down the plane to kill Russian servicemen and POWs close to a prisoner exchange.

  • It calls Ukraine’s denial an attempt to conceal its “crime”. Russia threatened retaliation saying blood was on Ukraine’s hands.

  • Moscow claims Ukraine fired two HIMARS rockets when the plane was landing in bad weather, leaving no chance for the pilots.

  • It wants an international investigation and warns Western nations over supplying Ukraine with long-range weapons that were used in the “mass murder”.

Ukraine’s Position

  • President Zelenskyy accused Russia of using the Ukrainian POWs as “human shields” while transporting “who knows what” cargo on the plane.

  • Ukraine denied shooting down the plane, saying Russia has presented no evidence. A spokesman called Russian allegations a “conspicuous provocation”.

  • Kyiv said Russia has constantly lies and makes up false pretexts throughout the conflict. It says Moscow creates disinformation to blame Ukraine.

  • Officials warned that by transporting POWs on a military cargo jet, Moscow may have planned to return them in poor health or use them as propaganda.

  • Ukraine called for an international probe and said Moscow bore full responsibility for transporting POWs on a military aircraft in an active war zone.

International Response

United Nations – The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on January 26th to discuss the incident, called by Russia.

USA – The White House called for an investigation and said it couldn’t confirm either sides’ claims on the crash. The State Department echoed Ukraine’s call for an international probe.

Germany – Germany’s foreign minister expressed doubts about Russia’s version and said Ukraine denying it shot down the plane is “important to take into account”.

NATO – NATO’s chief said while circumstances of the crash remain unclear, “We should be under no illusion about Russia’s responsibility as the aggressor.”

Red Cross – “The obligation to respect the lives and dignity of prisoners of wars is absolute,” the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross said. Both sides were reminded of frontline humanitarian laws.

Independent Experts – Aviation experts claim footage of wreckage indicates possible shoot down or explosion, while the altitude and location so near Ukraine raises questions about Russia’s account.

What Might Happen Next

  • With disputes over what happened, the UN Security Council meeting on Jan 26 will be crucial for how investigations unfold. There will likely be calls for neutral international participation.

  • If Moscow’s version is confirmed, it could retaliate against Ukraine which may signal an escalation. But Ukraine insists on accountability over Russia transporting POWs on the military flight.

  • If Russia staged the flight as a provocation to pin blame on Ukraine, it may use the incident for domestic propaganda to intensify anti-Ukraine sentiment among citizens.

  • The crash has fueled disputes threatening recent quiet optimism for prisoner exchanges. Further swaps could now face setbacks amid heightened distrust between the warring sides.

  • As arguments continue on who shot down flight and why it occurred, there is valid uncertainty around both accounts. Independent proof showing the flight’s purpose and path preceding the tragedy will better reveal the truth.

  • Without definitive evidence either way, Russia’s threats over the incident may drive further Advanced weapons aid for Ukraine from Western allies. Kyiv is also likely to repeat calls for modern air defense to protect skies.

The circumstances surrounding the Russian military plane crash remain unclear. But with the loss of over 70 lives, including dozens of POWs, the tragedy has added strain between Russia and Ukraine while fighting continues after nearly a year of brutal war. What unfolds next with international probes and fallout from the disputed incident may have significant impacts on the direction of the conflict.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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