US-supplied missile downed plane carrying Ukainian POWs – media
There is “a high probability” that Kiev’s troops used a US-supplied Patriot surface-to-air missile system to down a Russian military transport plane carrying Ukrainian POWs last week, a source close to the investigation into the incident told TASS on Wednesday.
Separately, another source in the Russian emergency services has revealed that “the preliminary examination of the striking elements found in the plane shows that the missile [that hit it] belongs to a Western-made air defense system,” according to RIA Novosti. The source, however, did not specify the weapons complex.
The plane in question, an Il-76 transport aircraft, went down last Wednesday in Russia’s Belgorod Region, which borders Ukraine. Everyone on board was killed, including 65 Ukrainian servicemen who were being transported for a prisoner exchange. Six crew members and three Russian troops also died.
Moscow has accused Ukrainian forces of downing the aircraft with a surface-to-air missile. Russian President Vladimir Putin also said last week that Kiev’s military intelligence agency, the GUR, had known that Ukrainian POWs were on board the plane.
TASS reported on Tuesday that the investigation into the crash has confirmed that the plane was targeted intentionally, citing an unnamed member of the Russian security services.
Data 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,” the source said, adding that it was “shot down in the air.”
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has refused to acknowledge that Kiev’s forces were responsible for bringing down the plane, and has called for an international investigation.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday that Moscow will not close off its own probe into the crash from those who “want to learn the truth.” He also criticized the West for not initiating the inquiry called for by Zelensky, claiming that Ukraine’s “masters… generally dislike international investigations.”
Moscow has repeatedly warned that any Western weapons deliveries to Ukraine that allow it to target Russian territory could cross ‘red lines’ and lead to a major escalation of hostilities. The supply of arms, intelligence sharing, and training to Kiev’s troops already means Western nations are de facto parties to the conflict, according to Russia.