Kiev knew Ukrainian POWs were on plane it downed – Putin
Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, the GUR, knew there were prisoners of war aboard a Russian military transport plane shot down by Kiev’s forces, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday. The full story of the shootdown will “become clear in a couple of days,” he added.
The IL-76 military transport plane was shot down over Russia’s Belgorod Region on Wednesday morning. Everyone on board – 65 prisoners, six crew members, and three Russian soldiers – died. The Russian Defense Ministry claims that the plane was brought down by Ukrainian anti-aircraft missiles while en route to a prisoner exchange in the city of Belgorod, located near the Russia-Ukraine border.
The GUR was aware that Ukrainian prisoners were traveling on the plane, Putin said on Friday, according to RIA Novosti.
“The entire current Kiev regime is based on crimes committed daily, including against its own citizens,” Putin said. “The [GUR] knew that we were transporting 65 military personnel there … and knowing this, they struck the plane.”
In a statement issued on Wednesday night, the GUR did not deny that the jet was taken out by Ukrainian forces. Instead, the agency said that it was unsure whether the prisoners would be taken to the exchange point by air or other means, and that it “was not informed about the need to ensure the safety of the airspace” over the border region.
Putin said that material seized from the crash site suggests that an American or French air-defense missile was used to bring down the plane, and that exactly how the aircraft was shot down “will become clear in a couple of days.”
“The results of the investigation into the IL-76 case will be published so that the Ukrainian people know” what happened to their soldiers, he stated.
Russian State Duma Defense Committee chief Andrey Kartapolov has also alleged that Western weapons were used to target the flight, claiming that American Patriot or German Iris-T missiles were fired at the jet. A French military source told Radio France on Wednesday that a Patriot missile had struck the fatal blow.
“All currently available data points to a deliberate, premeditated crime,” Russia’s deputy representative to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, told a meeting of the UN Security Council on Thursday. “The Ukrainian leadership was well aware about the route and means by which [the Ukrainian] soldiers would have been transported to the agreed exchange point,” he claimed, alleging that “the regime in Kiev had decided this time to sabotage [the swap] in the most barbaric way.”