Russia initiated a “terrorism” inquiry into a military plane crash near the Ukraine border. Moscow accused Kyiv of deliberately causing the incident, alleging that over 60 Ukrainian soldiers had been captured on board the aircraft.
The Russian defense and foreign ministries asserted that Ukrainian forces were responsible for bringing down the IL-76 transport plane in the southern Belgorod region on Wednesday.
Russia’s Investigative Committee, which handles major crime investigations, stated, “A criminal case under a terrorist act is being investigated in the Belgorod region on the Il-76 plane.”
Moscow claimed that none of the 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war, three crew members, and three military personnel on board survived the crash.
The Investigative Committee reported that “experienced detectives, criminalists, and experts” were actively involved in the investigation, asserting that the plane had been struck by a missile from Ukrainian territory.
The statement also mentioned the discovery of fragmented human remains and the recovery of the aircraft’s flight recorders, which were sent for decoding. The Investigative Committee indicated ongoing efforts to identify individuals within the Ukrainian armed forces believed to be responsible for the incident.
However, Moscow has not presented any public evidence or images confirming the presence of Ukrainian soldiers on the plane.
Furthermore, there has been no disclosure of the identities of those on board, and no proof has been provided that Kyiv was aware of the Ukrainian personnel being aboard the aircraft.
Russian VIPs were supposed to be in the plane
“There were supposed to be several VIPs from Russia’s military and political leadership,” revealed Andriy Yusov, a spokesperson for Ukrainian military intelligence, in an interview with the Ukrainian-language edition of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).
Yusov asserted that Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) had given orders at the last moment, instructing the VIPs not to board the ill-fated plane and to opt for alternative means of transportation.
The Ukrainian intelligence services reportedly obtained information about this alleged change after the crash of the IL-76. Yusov further claimed that the FSB prevented Russian rescue teams from inspecting the crash site.
He suggested the possibility that Russia might be employing Ukrainian prisoners of war as “human shields” during the transportation of missiles for anti-aircraft systems. However, the veracity of Yusov’s claims could not be immediately confirmed.
According to the intelligence spokesman, videos from the crash site of the IL-76 showed no indications of human remains, and he stated that only five bodies were transported to a Belgorod morgue on Thursday, corresponding to the number of crew members.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, on Wednesday, accused Russia of “playing with the lives of Ukrainian prisoners” and urged an international investigation into the plane’s downing. Meanwhile, the Kremlin labeled the incident a “monstrous act” on Thursday.