Russian VIPs were denied boarding crashed IL-76 plane at the last moment — Ukrainian intelligence

Russian IL-76 plane crashes near Belgorod
Russian IL-76 plane crashes near Belgorod
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Several Russian high-ranking officials were supposed to be on board the IL-76 military transport aircraft that crashed in Russia’s Belgorod oblast on Jan. 24, but the FSB did not allow them to board at the last moment, Ukrainian Defense Intelligence (HUR) spokesman Andriy Yusov told RFE/RL on Jan. 25.

The Ukrainian intelligence learned about this after the crash, he added.

"There were indeed supposed to be several VIPs from the military-political representation of the aggressor state [Russia] on board,” Yusov said.

“Their names are known and will be named, and the materials will be provided as part of an international investigation."

Read also: Identity of individuals aboard crashed Russian IL-76 remains unknown – Ukraine’s Ombudsman

Russian emergency services who arrived at the crash site were turned away by the FSB security service and the military, he added.

"They were not allowed to carry out, according to the protocol, an inspection of the site and the localization of debris," the HUR spokesperson said.

Read also: FM Kuleba calls on West to step up artillery aid, saying Pyongyang currently outpacing Kyiv’s allies

The video from the crash site does not show the remains of human bodies, and yesterday only five bodies were delivered to the local morgue in Belgorod, according to the Ukrainian official. He noted that this number of fatalities corresponds to a standard crew complement of an Il-76 aircraft.

A Russian IL-76 military transport plane, designed to airlift troops, cargo, military equipment, and weapons, crashed in the Korocha district of the southern Belgorod Oblast, which borders Ukraine, Russia’s Telegram channels reported on Jan. 24, citing anonymous sources.

A video of the alleged crash later appeared on social media. The footage showed the plane catching fire in the air and exploding in a huge fireball when it hit the ground.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that 65 Ukrainian POWs were on board heading to Belgorod Oblast for a prisoner exchange, accusing Ukraine of taking down the plane.

Ukraine’s General Staff, quoted by NV’s sister outlet Ukrainska Pravda, said the plane was transporting missiles for Russia’s S-300 air defense systems. There was no mention of prisoners of war.

However, the head of Ukraine’s Military Intelligence Directorate (HUR), Andriy Yusov, said a prisoner exchange had been due to take place.

Read also: Atesh movement reports external recon on Russia's top defense corp

“I can state that the exchange planned for today is not going ahead,” he told Radio Svoboda.

Ukraine’s Armed Forces cannot currently confirm that they downed a Russian Il-76 military transport aircraft on the morning of Jan. 24, Armed Forces spokesperson Bohdan Senyk told NV.

IL-76 was reportedly shot down on takeoff, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported on Jan. 24, citing a source close to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.

Read also: Russia may have used Ukrainian POWs as human shields in IL-76 plane — HUR

The source did not provide additional details or comment on the possible presence of Ukrainian prisoners on board, a claim circulating in Russian media.

The General Staff has officially stated that it tracks the launch sites of Russian missiles and the logistics of their delivery, especially by military transport aircraft, and will “continue to take measures to destroy delivery planes and control the airspace in order to destroy the terrorist threat.”

There was no information about who was on board the plane, the HUR reported later.

Read also: Video of the downing of the Russian Il-76 military transport plane in Belgorod Oblast appears online

Ukraine was preparing for a prisoner exchange and was safely delivering Russian POWs to the exchange site. The safety of the Ukrainian defenders was to be guaranteed by the Russian side.

The Russians did not warn Ukraine about the need to secure the airspace near Belgorod, as they had done before. Ukraine was also not informed about the form of delivery of the prisoners, the route, or the number of vehicles.

We’re bringing the voice of Ukraine to the world. Support us with a one-time donation, or become a Patron!

Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine