Volodymyr Zelensky claims that Russia endangered life in the downed aircraft

Following a fatal jet crash in western Russia, Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, charged that Moscow was “playing with the lives of Ukrainian prisoners”. Following the incident on Wednesday near the Ukrainian border in the Belgorod region, he called for an international investigation. After Kyiv shot down the Il-76 airliner carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war, six Russian crew members, and three bodyguards, Russia claimed there were no survivors. According to Moscow, the Ukrainians were being airlifted in exchange for prisoners.

Unlike in the past, according to Ukraine’s military intelligence, it was not instructed to guarantee secure airspace. President Zelensky stated that it was “obvious that the Russians are playing with the lives of Ukrainian prisoners, with the feelings of their relatives and with the emotions of our society” in his video message late on Wednesday. Mr. Zelensky emphasized that “all clear facts must be established” and canceled a planned regional trip that was associated with his birthday on Thursday.

Even while Ukraine’s military intelligence emphasized that it lacked solid information regarding the passengers, their remarks earlier in the day were interpreted as a veiled admission that they had shot down the military cargo plane. Social media users posted footage of a jet falling down, followed by a fireball and explosion close to Yablonovo hamlet, which is located 70 kilometers (44 miles) northeast of Belgorod. The incident occurred at approximately 11:00 local time (08:00 GMT). All occupants of the aircraft perished when it crashed in a field close to a residential neighborhood, according to Vyacheslav Gladkov, the regional governor of Belgorod. According to the Ukrainska Pravda website, the general staff of Ukraine first stated that the aircraft was carrying missiles for Russia’s S-300 air defense systems. PoWs were not mentioned at all.

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