Russia provides no evidence to support its Il-76 crash claims - US at OSCE

Russia provides no evidence to support its Il-76 crash claims - US at OSCE

Russia has not provided any evidence to back its claims regarding the Jan 24 downing of an Il-76 strategic airlifter in Belgorod region.

This was stated by Erin Webster-Main, political advisor at the U.S. Mission to the OSCE, as she spoke at the regular meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on Thursday in Vienna, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.

"It is worth noting that Russia bears full responsibility for every death in this war.  The Russian Federation invaded a peaceful neighbor, and it is responsible for continued daily attacks on Ukraine.  We would not be discussing this plane crash if Russia had not invaded Ukraine, and contrary to the claims made just now by the Russian Federation, the responsibility to end this conflict lies with the Russian Federation," the American diplomat said, commenting on the downing of the Il-76 strategic airlifter in Belgorod region.

Read also: Explaining complex things in simple words: Il-76 incident, situation of Ukrainian POWs, consensus with Slovakia

She emphasized that it was difficult to verify its unconfirmed statements.

"The problem we all face is that the crash happened in Russia, making it difficult to independently verify what happened.  As you know, Russia does not allow free press and independent reporting, and therefore its claims are difficult, if not impossible, to confirm.  Russia has also provided no evidence to support its claims thus far," Webster-Main said.

She recalled that "every day, including today, Russia’s officials are attempting to spread disinformation about their war on Ukraine."

"We should all keep that in mind when considering claims the Russian Federation makes," added the representative of the U.S. Mission to the OSCE.

As Ukrinform reported, during the 50th exchange of prisoners of war, which took place on January 31, 207 Ukrainian defenders were returned from Russian captivity, including 95 servicemen from the Armed Forces, 56 National Guardsmen, 26 border guards, 29 soldiers with the Territorial Defense, and a police officer.

Read also: Russia exploiting Il-76 crash to sow discontent in Ukraine - ISW

During the exchange on January 31, Ukrainian prisoners of war were released, who had been scheduled to be swapped on January 24, in addition to the 65 people, who the Russian side claims were killed in an Il-76 crash in Belgorod region.

Sources in the Armed Forces noted that the plane was carrying missiles for the S-300 air defense system, which the Russians use for mass shelling of Kharkiv region and other areas of Ukraine close to the Russian border.

The Russian defense ministry claims that 65 Ukrainian POWs, six crew, and three convoy guards were allegedly on board the plane.

Read also: Ukraine to insist on international investigation into crash of Russian Il-76 - Zelensky

Ukraine’s defense intelligence said the POW exchange had been scheduled for January 24. According to the agency spokesman, Andriy Yusov, Russian reports claiming that the Ukrainians were on board the Il-76 were being verified.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine would insist on an international investigation into the situation around the downing of the Russian IL-76 plane in Belgorod region.

Yusov also said Russia did not agree to such an international probe.

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