Alexey Danilov (Photo: Vladimir Tarasov / Keystone / Global Look Press)

Alexey Danilov (Photo: Vladimir Tarasov / Keystone / Global Look Press)

РБК:  There were no Ukrainian prisoners of war on the Russian Il-76 plane that crashed near Belgorod, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Alexey Danilov told the Babel publication.

“Were our prisoners there, I can tell you for sure - no. I say this based on the experience we had after Tehran, and on the basis of what happened next. If this really happened, then the amount of what is called, let’s say, biological material of the dead, would be in significant quantities,” he said.

It's about the crash of a Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737-800 passenger airliner near Tehran in January 2020, killing 176 people. At first, the Iranian authorities denied any involvement in the disaster, but after video footage appeared, which showed that the airliner was attacked by missiles from the ground, they admitted an error in the air defense calculations.

Danilov suggested that Russia “had this whole story prepared,” since the Russian side would have shown the consequences of the plane crash with images of the bodies of the victims. Danilov noted that Kyiv has no information whether the servicemen who were supposed to be exchanged that day are alive.

The Russian military transport aircraft Il-76 was shot down in the Belgorod region on January 24. The Russian Ministry of Defense reported that there were 65 Ukrainian prisoners on board who were being transported for exchange, and blamed Ukraine for the crash. Together with them were six crew members and three accompanying persons. President Vladimir Putin clarified that the plane was shot down by a Patriot missile, and admitted that the Ukrainian strike was an accident.

Investigators showed video footage of the remains of several people killed in the crash. She shows tattoos on some of her bodies. The Investigative Committee claims that a number of prisoners had similar images, including representatives of the Azov regiment (a terrorist extremist organization banned in Russia). Footage with documents of the victims and a video of their boarding the plane were shown.

The Ukrainian Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War confirmed that 65 prisoners from the list published by RT chief editor Margarita Simonyan after the crash of the Russian Il-76 military aircraft were indeed supposed to participate in the exchange on January 24. However, Ukrainian authorities said that Moscow did not transmit information about the presence of Ukrainian employees on the plane. Kyiv asked Moscow to hand over the bodies of the victims, the Kremlin forwarded the request to the investigation.

Officially, the American side refrained from commenting on what happened. Sources for The New York Times did not confirm the identities of those on the plane, but did not rule out that at least some of them were prisoners of war.

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