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24 Jan, 2024 15:32

Russia demands Security Council meeting in response to Belgorod plane attack

The IL-76 cargo jet was transporting 65 Ukrainian POWs when Kiev’s forces shot it down, Moscow says
Russia demands Security Council meeting in response to Belgorod plane attack

Russia requested an emergency session of the UN Security Council to discuss the shooting down of a military plane carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a press conference in New York on Wednesday afternoon, hours after the incident.

The IL-76 cargo plane crashed in Belgorod Region on Wednesday morning, claiming the lives of 65 Ukrainian POWs, as well as six crew members and three Russian soldiers, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. The prisoners were being transported to Belgorod, a city near the Ukrainian border, to be exchanged for captured Russian troops.

The ministry accused Ukrainian forces of shooting the plane down with air-defense missiles. “By committing this terrorist act, the Ukrainian leadership showed its true face, disregarding the lives of its citizens,” the ministry said.

Speaking to reporters at UN headquarters, Lavrov said that he had urged the Security Council’s French chairmanship to grant the meeting without delay.

”We do not want to repeat the situation of April 2022 after the staging of Bucha,” he added, referring to the supposed massacre of Ukrainians by Russian forces, which Moscow insists was staged by Kiev to draw international support. At the time, the British chairmanship of the Security Council refused Russia’s request for an emergency sitting for 72 hours. 

The General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said that military transport aircraft approaching Belgorod often carry weapons, and that Ukrainian forces “take measures to destroy delivery means and control the airspace to eliminate the terrorist threat.” However, the military command did not explicitly accept responsibility for shooting down the IL-76.

Ukrainskaya Pravda, a Ukrainian newspaper, initially reported that the plane had indeed been downed by the country’s military, but edited its article on the incident shortly afterwards to remove this information. 

The newspaper celebrated the downing as a success for the country’s “victorious armed forces,” Lavrov told the press conference. However, once it became known that the plane was carrying POWs, “the Ukrainian propaganda started to sweep it under the carpet…and find other explanations.”

Moscow is still working to ascertain Kiev’s motives, he said.

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