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Ukraine presses Russia for proof over POW deaths in military plane crash

In World
January 28, 2024

KYIV – Ukraine on Jan 27 pressed Russia to provide proof that a military plane shot down earlier in the week had been carrying dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war, as it claimed.

The latest twist in the bitter row over the incident came as Ukrainian officials said a Russian raid had killed two civilians near their border.

Ukraine’s spy chief questioned why Russia had not shown any images of the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers that Moscow claims were killed when a military plane was shot down.

Russia said 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed when Kyiv shot down an Ilyushin-76 military transport plane on Jan 24, near the border between the two countries.

While Kyiv has not outright denied Russia’s claims, it has questioned key parts of its narrative – in particular, who was on board the aircraft.

“There are a number of factors that are unclear,” Lieutenant-General Kyrylo Budanov, chief of Ukraine’s GUR military intelligence, said in an interview with state TV.

“First of all, they did not show fields covered with corpses and remains,” he said.

“If it happened as Russia claims, why does Russia… continue to hide the bodies?,” Lt-Gen Budanov asked on Jan 27.

‘There is nothing’

Russia’s Investigative Committee has published three videos of what it says is the crash site.

One showed a blurred close-up of a dead body. In another, a forensics team is sealing up a single body bag.

A third was grainy footage purporting to show vehicles transporting the prisoners to the plane before it took off, but the quality was too poor to verify this.

“There are no corpses,” Lt-Gen Budanov said on Jan 27. “There is nothing.”

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