Citing several unnamed American officials, The New York Times reported on Thursday that the Russian Il-76 military plane that crashed in the Belgorod region on January 24 was shot down by a missile from the Patriot complex. The interlocutors of the newspaper admitted that there could be Ukrainian prisoners on board the plane.
According to NYT sources, the claims about the use of Patriot correspond to reality, it was provided by one of the countries that are allies of the United States. Apparently, Ukraine acted on the basis of “legitimate but erroneous intelligence data”, writes The New York Times.
According to Western officials, the plane previously carried missiles, which “made it an important target for Kyiv.” The interlocutors of the publication said that the Ukrainian military did not know that the Russian plane could transport Ukrainian prisoners of war.
According to the Russian authorities, the plane that crashed near Belgorod was carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war for exchange, and all of them died. In Moscow, they said that the plane was shot down by Ukraine, and that the Patriot complex was used for this.
- Representatives of the Ukrainian authorities, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyi, neither confirmed nor denied the Russian version of what happened to the plane and the prisoners who were to be exchanged. At the same time, both American and Ukrainian officials believe that Russia could have exaggerated the number of dead.
- After the Il-76 crash, Kyiv accused Moscow of using the issue of the fate of prisoners to influence public opinion in Ukraine. The Ukrainian authorities called for an international investigation into the disaster.