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May 23, 2024

Ukraine Accuses Russia of Deception After Plane Crash Kills Dozens

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Jan 31, 2024

Ukraine is accusing Russia of an elaborate ruse involving the deaths of dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs), after a Russian military plane crashed last week near the Ukraine border.

The crash of the Russian Il-76 military transport plane on January 23rd initially sparked rumors that it was carrying over 100 Ukrainian POWs. Moscow quickly claimed Ukraine shot the plane down, killing 62 Ukrainian POWs who were being transported to prisons inside Russia.

Russia Alleges POWs Perished in Plane Crash, Ukraine Denies Claims

Russia’s defense ministry stated 93 people were aboard the doomed flight, including 63 Ukrainian POWs and 30 crew/guards. President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of a “vile provocation” in shooting down the aircraft.

However, Ukraine has dismissed Russian allegations that dozens of POWs died, stating there is no evidence to confirm Moscow’s claims.

Ukrainian officials met with relatives of soldiers Russia alleged were on the flight, but found no confirmation their loved ones were aboard or had died. Ukraine warned Russia may be using fabricated deaths for “propaganda purposes.”

“There is no evidence yet that Ukrainian POWs were on this plane,” said Ukraine’s presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak. “This looks like deliberate disinformation from Russia.”

Plane Crash Site in Russian Territory Limits Access

The crash occurred near Ryazan in western Russia, limiting Ukraine’s ability to verify details. With the site inside Russian territory, Ukraine called for an international investigation led by the United Nations.

“We have an interest in establishing the truth in this situation,” said Ukrainian presidential spokesman Serhii Nykyforov. “If there were or were not prisoners of war on board, we want full clarity.”

But the Kremlin has refused Ukraine’s requests, pledging instead to share investigation results with the UN Security Council. Russia brought the issue before the Council last week, eliciting condemnation from Western members.

“We are deeply troubled by reports that dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed in Russia’s custody,” said US Ambassador to the UN Lindsay Graham.

Families of Ukrainian Soldiers Demand Answers, Proof from Russia

Families of captured Ukrainian soldiers demanded Russia provide proof that their relatives died in the plane crash.

Relatives told reporters they received no information about their loved ones’ deaths or remains for burial. Nor had Russia updated its official list of Ukrainian POWs held in detention centers.

“I demand that Russia provides evidence directly to me that my son was killed in that plane crash,” said Ivan Lakatosh, father of a captured Ukrainian marine.

Prisoner Swaps Continue Amid Plane Crash Controversy

The allegations and controversy came just before Russia and Ukraine conducted a major exchange of 107 Ukrainian soldiers and 101 Russian POWs on January 28th.

Despite the ongoing spat over the downed Il-76, both sides suggested more swaps could follow. Ukraine in particular aims to gain freedom for thousands more detained fighters.

“The exchange took place against the backdrop of the tragedy near Ryazan,” noted one Ukrainian official involved in the talks. “But we plan to continue this important humanitarian work.”

What Comes Next? Truth May Prove Elusive in Fog of Propaganda War

With control of the crash site, Russia retains power over disclosing findings from any investigation. Kremlin authorities could present fabricated evidence to support initial claims about Ukrainian POW deaths.

Moscow invoking the UN Security Council also allows Russia to drive the narrative, as it holds veto power alongside other permanent members.

Ultimately Russia has incentive to leverage the incident as propaganda, while Ukraine wants to expose deceit. In the ongoing information war paritying the actual invasion, absolute truth may remain evasive.

Moving forward, scrutiny will continue around treatment of POWs on both sides. Rights groups have already accused Russia of abuse and forced disappearances of detained Ukrainians.

Families of those captured will keep pressing for transparency and proof of life. Neither side’s claims can be taken fully at face value amid the distortion of war.

Independent verification could help establish facts, if Russia provides unfiltered access. But Putin seems unlikely to relinquish control of the narrative, as long as global opinion hangs in the balance.

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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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