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Ukrainian intelligence does not rule out PoWs on downed Russian plane [VIDEO] - 211 Views

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Ukrainian intelligence does not rule out PoWs on downed Russian plane [VIDEO]

A spokesperson from Ukrainian defense intelligence informed the BBC that he does not rule out the possibility of Ukrainian prisoners being on board the Russian military plane that crashed in Belgorod. However, Andriy Yusov emphasized that Russia has presented no evidence to support its claims regarding the presence of Ukrainian prisoners.

Yusov stated, “There is no conclusive information about prisoners of war; only Russia’s statements, which seem political and propagandistic. The details of who or what was on board need clarification.” As the first Ukrainian official interviewed by the BBC since the incident, Yusov accused Moscow of withholding information, citing limited images from the crash site, including those of any casualties.

Russia alleges that 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war perished when the IL-76 plane was downed by a Ukrainian missile. The Russian investigative committee released a brief video showing blood on the snow, wreckage, and a large charred area. Although there are human body parts visible, the footage is constrained in revealing details.

When asked about the possibility of Ukraine shooting down the military plane, Yusov stated, “We do not confirm such information.” He noted that both sides deployed drones over Belgorod that day, with Ukrainian reconnaissance drones and Russian attack drones in operation. Russian air defense was engaged against these drones, and Belgorod falls within the potential range of Ukrainian air defense systems.

When pushed, he said again there was “no confirmed information” that Ukraine had fired at the plane.

He also suggested that what he called a “friendly fire” incident by Russia – hitting its own plane – was “one of the possible scenarios” that needed looking into.

Mr Yusov said Ukraine had launched a criminal case on the plane incident that would look into all the possibilities.

He stressed the need for an international investigation, with full access to the crash site in Russia and any fragments of plane or any missile – “in order to rule out all possibilities”.

The intelligence officer did claim that the specific Il-76 aircraft which crashed had been used previously to deliver ammunition and “missiles for S-300 and S-400 systems” to the Belgorod region.

We haven’t been able to check that.

But such missiles are used in regular deadly strikes on Ukraine, particularly the Kharkiv region near the Russian border. This week, dozens of people have been injured here – and at least 10 killed – when residential buildings were hit.

Mr Yusov added that Ukraine “can’t exclude” the plane was carrying both people and ammunition.

On the prisoner swap, he confirmed an exchange had been planned on Wednesday “around lunchtime”. But it was meant to take place in the Sumy region, west of Belgorod.

Mr Yusov refuted Russia’s claim that it had warned Ukraine its PoWs would be brought by military plane to the Belgorod region.

He said the two sides implemented a ceasefire in Sumy, as agreed. “Unfortunately, the exchange did not happen.”

The Ukrainian official said the two sides usually communicate about the routes they will use for prisoner swaps, to ensure safety.

On 3 January, during the previous swap, he said Ukraine was informed that Russia would use a plane.

On Thursday, Ukraine’s Air Forces chief stressed that the country had the right to defend itself against attack by Russia and would continue to do so.

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