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Russia Says A Plane With 65 Ukrainian POWs Crashes, Killing All Aboard

Tensions escalate between Russia and Ukraine as Moscow alleges a deliberate attack on a military transport plane en route to a planned prisoner exchange. Russia says a plane with Ukrainian POWs crashes, carrying 74 individuals, including 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war, was a result of a "terrorist act."

Alexander McCaslin
Jan 26, 2024302 Shares15906 Views
Tensions escalate between Russia and Ukraine as Moscow alleges a deliberate attack on a military transport plane en route to a planned prisoner exchange. Russia says a plane with Ukrainian POWs crashes, carrying 74 individuals, including 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war, was a result of a "terrorist act." The incident marks a tragic turn in the ongoing conflict, now nearing its two-year mark, with both nations pointing fingers amid heightened hostilities. Stay tuned as we bring you the latest developments in this rapidly evolving situation.

Russia Says A Plane With Ukrainian POWs Crashes

An airplane flying
An airplane flying
Russia and Ukraine find themselves embroiled in a fresh wave of hostilities as both nations trade blame over the tragic crash of a military transport plane, intensifying the information war that has become a hallmark of their protracted conflict. The incident occurred on Wednesday, with Moscow asserting that the plane, carrying 74 individuals, including 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs), was deliberately shot down by Kyiv's forces.
Despite the reported discovery of flight recorders a day after the crash, hopes for clarity on the circumstances remain bleak, given the longstanding trend of both sides using accusations to influence domestic and international opinion. The Il-76 crashed in a rural area of Russia, claiming the lives of all 74 on board, including six crew members, three Russian servicemen, and the majority being Ukrainian POWs.
The aftermath triggered a flurry of claims and counterclaims, with no concrete evidence presented by either side. Russia alleges that Kyiv targeted the plane with two missiles, describing the incident as a "totally monstrous act." The Kremlin's Investigative Committee has initiated a criminal probe, classifying the crash as a terrorist act.
In response, Ukraine cast doubt on the presence of POWs and put forward alternative theories, including the suggestion that the plane may have posed a threat. The Ukrainian military's general staff issued a statement, implicitly warning of potential targeting of Russian military transport planes, particularly near the border.
Ukraine's Air Force Commander, Mykola Oleshchuk, accused Russia of disseminating false information through "rampant propaganda" to discredit Ukraine on the global stage. While Ukrainian officials confirmed a planned prisoner exchange on Wednesday, they maintained it was called off. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced Ukraine's intention to seek an international investigation.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, scheduled for Thursday afternoon in New York. The discovery of the flight recorders was reported by the state-owned RIA Novosti newsagency, citing emergency services.
As the conflict nears its two-year mark, the 1,500-kilometer front line remains largely static. Both sides are focusing on replenishing weapons stockpiles, with recent attention on long-range strikes. Notably, earlier this month, the Ukrainian air force claimed to have shot down a key Russian early warning and control plane.
Ukraine's human rights ombudsman, Dmytro Lubinets, called for international experts to have access to the crash site and expressed readiness to provide information. He emphasized transparency, stating:
We definitely don’t have anything to hide.- Dmytro Lubinets
The crash's impact on future POW exchanges remains uncertain, with Lubinets noting the unpredictability of negotiations with the Russian side. Meanwhile, Andrei Kartapolov, head of the defense affairs committee in the Russian parliament, affirmed Russia's commitment to continuing prisoner exchanges.
In a parallel development, Ukraine's largest oil and gas company, Naftogaz, reported a large-scale cyberattack affecting its data centers, leading to the shutdown of websites and call centers. Ukraine's national postal service and the State Service for Transport Safety also reported technical failures, with the nature of these issues yet to be specified.

Conclusion

In the aftermath of the tragic crash of the Russian Il-76 military transport plane, both Russia and Ukraine find themselves entangled in a webof accusations and counterclaims. Moscow asserts that Kyiv's forces deliberately shot down the aircraft, which was purportedly carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war bound for a scheduled exchange. The dramatic footage of the Il-76 crashing in a ball of fire near the Ukraine-Russia border intensified the verbal sparring between the two nations.
As the smoke clears, Ukrainian officials, while stopping short of explicitly denying involvement in the downing of the aircraft, maintain a cautious stance. They refrain from confirming the presence of Ukrainian soldiers on the ill-fated plane destined for the planned prisoner exchange.
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