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1 Feb, 2024 13:57

Americans likely part of crew that shot down Ukrainian POWs – TASS

Russia’s Investigative Committee previously concluded that the Il-76 aircraft was destroyed with a US-made Patriot missile system
Americans likely part of crew that shot down Ukrainian POWs – TASS

American specialists may have been part of the crew that operated the US-made Patriot air defense system that shot down a Russian military aircraft carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war last week, TASS news agency reports.

The plane, a Russian Il-76, crashed over Belgorod Region last Wednesday while carrying 65 captured Ukrainian servicemen who were set to take part in a prisoner swap later that day. All of the POWs, as well as three Russian officers and six crew members, died in the crash.

On Thursday, Russia’s Investigative Committee released a report claiming that the plane was brought down using two MIM-104A surface-to-air missiles launched from a Patriot missile system deployed at a staging area in Kharkov Region, Ukraine near the village of Liptsy, around 10km from the Russian border.

Following the Investigative Committee’s report, a source within Russia’s security services told TASS that it is very likely that the crew operating the Patriot system represented a mix of Ukrainian and American specialists.

The agency’s source explained that Ukrainian officers are likely placed in lower positions while “Western specialists, including Americans, sit at the control and missile guidance stations.” They added that Ukrainian servicemen are often only allowed to be involved with these systems as drivers or operators of transport-loading vehicles. 

The TASS report noted that the Russian authorities are still in the process of identifying the exact people who were involved in the attack and were operating the Patriot system.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the use of a US-made system in the killing of Ukrainian POWs means that US President Joe Biden and his administration have made regular American citizens “complicit in the bloody tragedy.”

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