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31 Jan, 2024 22:14

Ukrainian POWs shot down by US-supplied missile – Putin

The Russian president has said he does not understand why Kiev would attack an aircraft carrying its own servicemen
Ukrainian POWs shot down by US-supplied missile – Putin

Kiev’s forces used an air defense system supplied by Washington to attack a Russian aircraft carrying Ukrainian POWs for a pre-scheduled swap, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

The attack, which took place last week, led to the deaths of 65 Ukrainians on board, as well as the plane’s crew and three Russian military personnel.

“The plane was downed... by a US-made Patriot system,” Putin said, calling it a “well established” fact that had been confirmed by an expert review. Russian emergency services had previously stated that fragments of one or more missiles had been found at the crash site.

Investigators have not officially commented on the results of the ongoing probe into the incident. However sources close to the investigation told TASS that an analysis of the plane’s black box data showed that it had been intentionally shot down. A source also told the news agency that it was “highly probable” that a US-supplied Patriot surface-to-air missile system was used in the attack.

Last week, a French military source told the nation’s state broadcaster Radio France that Kiev’s forces used a Patriot missile to down the plane. The Russian Defense Ministry accused the Ukrainian military of being behind the attack soon after the incident, adding that Kiev was well aware of the fact that the aircraft was carrying Ukrainian POWs.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky on Wednesday disputed Moscow’s version and called for an international probe into the incident. On Wednesday, Putin also said that Russia would call for an international investigation into the downed aircraft.

“I state this officially: We ask for international experts to be deployed [here] to conduct an analysis, assess the existing material evidence of the fact that the plane was downed by the Patriot system,” he stated.

The Russian president added that he does not understand why the Ukrainian military would do something like this, saying, “one can assume they did it by accident,” though it constitutes a “crime in any case.”

According to Putin, the attack could have been a provocation aimed at prompting a response from Russia. However, Moscow will not stop the POW exchanges with Kiev, he said, as Russia wants to bring its own soldiers back home.