Black box data confirms plane carrying Ukrainian POWs was shot down – TASS
Flight recorder data from the Russian military transport plane that crashed while carrying Ukrainian POWs last week has confirmed that the aircraft was intentionally shot down, TASS reported on Tuesday, citing a source.
The Il-76 went down over Russia’s Belgorod Region, which borders Ukraine, last Wednesday. All of those on board – 65 captured Ukrainian servicemen, six crew members, and three Russian soldiers – were killed in the crash. The Russian Defense Ministry has insisted that the plane was shot down by Kiev’s forces, who it says were informed ahead of time that the aircraft would be transporting POWs for a prisoner exchange later in the day.
While an investigation is ongoing, a source within the Russian security services has told TASS that data obtained from the aircraft's black boxes “excludes all other possible versions of the Il-76 crash and confirms that the plane was subjected to external influence,” clarifying that it was “shot down in the air.”
“Everything is obvious,” the source said, noting that analysis of the black box data is nearing completion.
Kiev has confirmed that a prisoner swap was scheduled to take place the day the aircraft was brought down, although Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, the GUR, has insisted that it was not informed about how the POWs would be transferred to the exchange site.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry has said it considers all Russian military aircraft legitimate targets and will continue to do so. Several sources from Kiev’s armed forces also suggested shortly after the crash that they believed the Il-76 to have been transporting S-300 missiles.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has refused to confirm his forces were responsible for bringing down the plane and has called for an international probe into the incident.
However, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed last week that the GUR was informed that the Il-76 was carrying POWs, but nevertheless chose to shoot the plane down.
“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.”
The Russian leader also said evidence found at the crash site suggested that the plane was shot down using an American or French air-defense missile, adding that the full picture “will become clear in a couple of days.”