Russian President Vladimir Putin said a Russian military plane that crashed near the border with Ukraine on Wednesday was shot down by Ukrainian air defences, whether on purpose or by mistake.
Without providing evidence, Putin says Ukraine fired a missile provided by U.S. or FranceThomson Reuters
· Posted: Jan 26, 2024 1:33 PM EST | Last Updated: January 26
A view shows the wreckage of the Russian Ilyushin Il-76 military transport plane near the village of Yablonovo in the Belgorod region, Russia, in this still image from video on Thursday. (Russian Investigative Committee/Reuters)Russian President Vladimir Putin said a Russian military plane that crashed near the border with Ukraine on Wednesday was shot down by Ukrainian air defences, whether on purpose or by mistake.
Moscow accuses Kyiv of downing the Ilyushin Il-76 plane in Russia’s Belgorod region and killing 74 people on board, including 65 captured Ukrainian soldiers en route to be swapped for Russian prisoners of war.
Putin offered no details to support the allegation that Ukraine was to blame, which other Russian officials have also made, beginning in the first hours after the crash.
WATCH l Claims and counterclaims after deadly plane crash:
Russia, Ukraine trade blame after Russian military plane crash kills 74 peopleRussia’s Defence Ministry accused Ukraine of shooting down a military transport plane filled with Ukrainian prisoners of war bound for a prisoner exchange. Ukraine, which has not taken responsibility, said Russia deliberately endangered the lives of POWs.
Ukraine has not confirmed or denied whether it shot down the plane and has challenged Moscow’s account of who was on board and what happened.
“I don’t know if they did it on purpose or by mistake, but it is obvious that they did it,” Putin said in televised comments, his first on the crash.
“In any case, what happened is a crime. Either through negligence or on purpose, but in any case it is a crime.”
‘Rampant Russian propaganda:’ UkrainePutin said the plane could not have been brought down by Russian “friendly fire” because Russia’s air defence systems have safeguards to prevent them attacking their own planes.
“There are ‘friend or foe’ systems there, and no matter how much the operator presses the button, our air defence systems would not work,” he said.
President Vladimir Putin is shown at an event in St. Petersburg on Friday. Putin made his first public comments concerning the plane accident that killed all passengers and crew earlier this week in Belgorod in western Russia. (Alexey Danichev/AFP/Getty Images)Putin said the missiles fired were mostly likely provided by the U.S. or France, but this would be established with certainty in two to three days.
Ukraine disputes Russia’s assertion that it was warned in advance that a plane carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war would be flying over Russia’s southwestern Belgorod region at that time. It has also said there were discrepancies in a list published by Russian media of the 65 Ukrainians alleged to have been on the aircraft.
Mykola Oleshchuk, Ukraine’s air force commander, described Moscow’s claims on Thursday as “rampant Russian propaganda.”