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Russian plane carrying Ukrainian POWs was downed by US-made missile – investigators

Military leaders in Kiev gave the order to fire the Patriot in the January attack, Moscow claims

Senior military officials in Kiev were responsible for shooting down a Russian transport plane that was carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war for an exchange earlier this year, Russia’s Investigative Committee said on Tuesday.

The Ilyushin Il-76M aircraft was downed by a US-made Patriot interceptor missile on January 24, according to Russian investigators. All those on board, including 65 POWs, three Russian guards, and six crew members, were killed in the crash.

The committee said it had collected enough evidence to accuse Ukrainian military commanders and the leadership of the country’s military intelligence directorate, the GUR. They “knew for certain” that a prisoner swap was due to happen and “ordered the destruction of the plane” nevertheless, officials claimed.

Russian investigators have collected over 110 fragments from two MIM-104 Patriot missiles at the crash site, including from the body of one of the victims, the statement said. Records from onboard cameras show one of the projectiles detonating next to the plane’s cockpit, while the second one reportedly missed its target and self-destructed.

Russian radar data identified a specific location in Ukraine’s Kharkov Region from which the missiles were fired by a single launcher, the statement said. Efforts are ongoing to establish the individuals responsible for “the organization of this terrorist attack,” it added.

© Investigative Committee of Russia



The committee released a video showing its work at the crash site and later during a forensic analysis of the recovered fragments. One clip showed lasers beaming in front of the wrecked cockpit, as investigators determined the angle at which shrapnel from the alleged American-made missile had penetrated it.

Ukrainian officials have boasted of using Patriot systems against multiple Russian military aircraft. Shortly after the tragedy, the GUR claimed that the aircraft had not been given safe passage in the airspace near the front line.


READ MORE: US admits ‘Patriot’ role in POW plane downing – NYT

Prisoner swaps between Russia and Ukraine continued after the incident. In the latest instance in late May, 75 Russian POWs were returned from Ukrainian captivity in exchange for an equal number of Kiev’s troops.

Days later, Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed that Moscow was holding 6,465 Ukrainian POWs, compared to 1,348 Russian military service members held by the other side.

June 25, 2024 at 06:13PM
RT

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