Russia shows no willingness to return bodies of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POW) allegedly killed in an Il-76 plane crash on Jan. 24, Ukraine’s military intelligence (HUR) spokesperson Andrii Yusov said in a comment to Suspilne, published on Jan. 30.
Russia has alleged that the military aircraft that crashed in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast last week was destroyed by Ukrainian forces and that it was carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners.
Ukraine has called Russia’s narrative into question and demanded an international investigation, which Moscow refused.
Yusov reminded that, as of now, there is no evidence of the presence of the POWs on the crashed plane apart from Russia’s claims.
“At the moment, there is no readiness to transfer the bodies from their (Russia’s) side. Nevertheless, such efforts continue from our side,” Yusov told Suspilne.
“If the worst possibility turns out to be true, we will do everything possible to return our defenders.”
Read also: Ukraine war latest: Russia blocks international commission from investigating Il-76 crash, Ukraine says
Yusov noted that it was possible that the plane was carrying both prisoners and ammunition, with the POWs serving as human shields. On the day of the crash, several Ukrainian media outlets reported, citing military sources, that the aircraft was transporting S-300 missiles.
“Considering that the plane was loaded only to one-third, based on their (Russian) version, other supplies may have been present, as this is the main purpose of the aircraft,” the spokesperson said.
Ukraine’s Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War confirmed that a prisoner swap was planned for Jan. 24 that was meant to involve 65 Ukrainian POWs. Ukrainian officials nevertheless said that Russia provided no evidence that these prisoners were on the crashed plane.
Read also: Ukrainian officials meet relatives of POWs who Russia claims were in crashed Il-76, say no evidence to confirm that
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