Russian plane crash: Questions over Moscow's version of blaming Ukraine

On Thursday evening, the Russian intelligence agency responsible for the investigation opened by Moscow for “terrorism” released a nearly 40-second video showing scenes of a wooded area and a snow-covered field.

Several fallen trees and a large piece of crumpled sheet metal were visible, but there was no sign of the enormous carcass of the Il-76 military aircraft, which measured almost 50 meters in length.

On the ground, in the snow, debris is difficult to identify. Human remains of one or two bodies, faded, as well as some traces of blood are found.

AFP could not immediately identify the location or verify the shooting date of these images.

On Wednesday, an Il-76 transport plane crashed near the Russian village of Yablonovo, 45 kilometers from the border with Ukraine, in the Belgorod region, killing all 74 people on board, Russian officials said.

According to them, 65 Ukrainian prisoners were to be exchanged, along with a group of six and three Russian soldiers.

Russian investigators repeated the version presented by Moscow, according to which “the plane was hit by an anti-aircraft missile from Ukrainian territory.”

However, Russia has not provided any evidence of the passengers' identities and has not proven that Ukraine knew who was on board.

Ukrainian human rights commissioner Dmytro Lubinets, one of those responsible for the prisoner exchange, called on Thursday for the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to “investigate the scene” of the crash.

The Russian military plane that crashed near the village of Yablonovo on Wednesday had taken off from a suburb of Moscow and was about to land in Belgorod, the Russian Defense Ministry ©AFP said.

However, he said he was “determined” that Moscow would not allow “anyone (…) to visit the site”.

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The ICRC denied any “speculation” and confirmed it had “no idea what happened”.

Kyiv has not confirmed it shot down the plane, but has stressed its willingness to continue targeting military targets on Russian territory.

And Ukrainian military intelligence (GUR) emphasized the lack of “reliable and complete information” regarding the plane's passengers. President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for an international investigation.

Russia is “responsible”

The Ukrainian human rights commissioner noted that Russia is “responsible in all cases for the protection” of detainees, according to the Geneva Conventions.

Dmytro Loubinets also confirmed that “there was nothing to indicate that there were so many people on board.”

kyiv admits the prisoner exchange was planned but says the need to protect airspace in the crash zone was “not informed”.

On Thursday, the country's special services (SBU) announced they were opening an investigation into the crash, but any investigation appears difficult because the plane was over Russian territory.

Russian investigators recovered two black boxes, state agency RIA Novosti reported, citing a source within the emergency services.

Moscow, for its part, hosted an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council at 10:00 pm GMT on Thursday.

A sign of uncertainty and many questions, international reactions are rare.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Christophe Lemoine said he “couldn't say whether the Russian claims were true or not.” “Russia has trained us to lie about these things,” he added.

MH17, Prigogine

The area of ​​Belgorod, where the crash happened, is regularly targeted by Ukrainian airstrikes in retaliation for several Russian attacks.

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kyiv has already been responsible for the destruction of russian planes which until recently seemed beyond the reach of ukrainian weapons.

Last week, the country said it had shot down two Russian planes, a claim Moscow has neither confirmed nor denied.

Russia has been involved in several plane disasters, the circumstances of which are still unclear and the Russian version of events raises many questions.

The most famous case is that of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine in 2014. If all elements point to the responsibility of militants in Moscow's pay, Russia has multiplied versions to blame Ukraine for the tragedy that left Ukraine in 298. died

The plane carrying Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group, crashed in August 2023 during a flight between Moscow and St. Petersburg.

He was killed in a crash along with his top lieutenants, just weeks after an abortion riot that angered Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian officials have denied any involvement, saying passengers may have detonated an on-board grenade that may have caused the crash.

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