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Russians promise to return remains of Ukrainian servicemen allegedly killed in Il-76 plane crash “in near future”


Tatyana Moskalkova, the Russian Federation’s Ombudsman, has stated that the remains of Ukrainian military personnel who were allegedly killed in the downing of a Russian Il-76 military plane will be transferred to Ukraine in the near future.

Source: Moskalkova in a comment to Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti

Details: The Russian official says all expert procedures in the Russian Federation regarding the bodies of the deceased have been completed, and there is a willingness on the part of the Russian Federation to transfer the bodies, and Ukraine is prepared to accept them.

Moskalkova did not specify possible deadlines for the transfer of the remains.

Previously: On 1 March, Russian Human Rights Ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova said that Russia was ready to return to Ukraine the bodies of the prisoners of war reportedly killed in the 24 January crash of an Il-76 cargo plane in Belgorod Oblast.

In a comment to Ukrainska Pravda, Andrii Yusov, spokesperson for Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU), reported that Ukraine has repeatedly appealed to Russia regarding the transfer of bodies of those who died aboard the Il-76. Work in this direction is ongoing, as is the investigation into the circumstances of what actually happened with the Il-76 and who was truly on board.

Dmytro Lubinets, the Verkhovna Rada (Parliamentary) Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that as of 1 March, he had not received any official information from Russia regarding the possible death of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) aboard the Il-76 that crashed in Russia. However, after the Russian ombudsman stated that the country was ready to hand over the bodies, he will once again bring this issue up with the Russian side.

Background:

  • On 24 January, a Russian Il-76 aircraft crashed in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast. Sources in the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine stated the plane was carrying S-300 anti-aircraft missiles.

  • Following the downing of a Russian Il-76 transport aircraft in the Russian Federation’s Belgorod Oblast, a number of Russian media outlets cited Andrei Kartapolov, chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on Defence. He claimed that the plane contained dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war who had been taken for exchange, and Ukrainian Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets stated that he was looking into the situation. Ukraine’s Defence Intelligence confirmed only that a prisoner exchange was planned for 24 January.

  • A few hours after information about the crash appeared, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine issued a statement in which it hinted that the plane was a military target and was transporting ammunition for the Russian army.

  • Ukraine’s Parliamentary Human Rights Commissioner Dmytro Lubinets noted Ukraine had seen no evidence indicating that a large number of prisoners of war were onboard the Il-76 military transport aircraft that crashed in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast, contrary to statements made by the Russian Ministry of Defence and other representatives of the aggressor country.

  • Kyrylo Budanov, Head of Ukraine’s Defence Intelligence, has said that neither Russia nor Ukraine could lay to rest the question of what happened when the Il-76 aircraft crashed in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast, because the Russians haven’t released the bodies.

  • None of the POWs who returned to Ukraine as a result of the swap on 31 January were on Russia’s list of those supposedly aboard the downed flight.

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