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Ukraine says it has no proof for Russia’s declare that dozens of POWs died in a shot down aircraft

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KYIV, Ukraine — Officers in Ukraine stated Russia has supplied no credible proof to again its claims that Ukrainian forces shot down a army transport aircraft that Moscow says was carrying Ukrainian prisoners of conflict who have been to be swapped for Russian POWs.

The Ukrainian company that offers with prisoner exchanges stated late Friday that Russian officers had “with nice delay” supplied it with a listing of the 65 Ukrainians who Moscow stated had died within the aircraft crash in Russia’s Belgorod area on Wednesday.

Ukraine’s Coordination Workers for the Remedy of Prisoners of Warfare stated family members of the named POWs have been unable to establish their family members in crash web site images supplied by Russian authorities. The company’s replace cited Ukraine’s army intelligence chief, Lt. Col. Kyrylo Budanov, as saying that Kyiv had no verifiable details about who was on the aircraft.

The Russian Protection Ministry stated Wednesday that missiles fired from throughout the border introduced down the transport aircraft that it stated was taking the POWs again to Ukraine. Native authorities in Belgorod, which borders Ukraine, stated the crash killed all 74 individuals onboard, together with six crew members and three Russian servicemen.

“We at the moment don’t have proof that there may have been that many individuals onboard the plane. Russian propaganda’s declare that the IL-76 plane was transporting 65 Ukrainian POWs (heading) for a prisoner swap continues to boost a variety of questions,” Budanov stated.

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Social media customers within the Belgorod area posted a video Wednesday that confirmed a aircraft falling from the sky in a snowy, rural space, and an enormous ball of fireplace erupting the place it apparently hit the bottom.

Kyiv has neither confirmed nor denied that its forces downed a Russian army transport aircraft that day, and Russia’s declare that the crash killed Ukrainian POWs could not be independently verified. Earlier Friday, Mykola Oleshchuk, Ukraine’s air drive commander, described Moscow’s assertion as “rampant Russian propaganda.”

Ukrainian officers earlier this week confirmed {that a} prisoner swap was on account of occur Wednesday, however stated it was known as off. They stated Moscow did not ask for any particular stretch of airspace to be stored protected for a sure size of time, because it has for previous prisoner exchanges.

An Worldwide Committee of the Pink Cross spokesperson in Ukraine urged Russia on Friday evening to return the our bodies of any POWs who might need died within the aircraft crash.

In a stay interview with the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Pink Cross Media Relations Officer Oleksandr Vlasenko additionally remarked that “little or no time” had handed between the preliminary experiences of the crash and Moscow declaring it was able to return the our bodies of the Ukrainian POWs.

Whereas Ukraine and Russia commonly change the our bodies of {dead} troopers, every commerce has required appreciable preparation, Vlasenko stated.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has known as for a global investigation into the crash. Russia has sole entry to the crash web site.

Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged Friday to make the findings of Moscow’s crash investigation public. In his first public remarks concerning the crash, Putin repeated earlier feedback by Russian officers that “all the things was deliberate” for a prisoner change that day when the plane went down.

“Understanding (the POWs have been aboard), they attacked this aircraft. I don’t know whether or not they did it on function or by mistake, via thoughtlessness,” Putin stated of Ukraine at a gathering with college students in St. Petersburg.

He supplied no particulars to assist the allegation that Kyiv was accountable, however stated the aircraft’s flight recorders had been discovered.

“There are black packing containers, all the things will now be collected and proven,” Putin stated.

Because the conflict nears its two-year mark, Ukraine is keen to show momentum to america and different Western allies supplying the nation with weapons and different support. A counteroffensive final 12 months to grab Russian-occupied areas did not produce main beneficial properties.

Ukrainian Overseas Minister Dmytro Kuleba met along with his Lithuanian counterpart in Kyiv on Saturday. Throughout a joint information convention, the 2 cited progress on joint drone manufacturing and reviving a European Union fund to pay for army support after the bloc’s leaders in December postponed an settlement to prime it up.

Kuleba stated there was “clear understanding” between him and Lithuanian Overseas Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis on how you can present extra drones for the Ukrainian military.

“Lithuania has the know-how; we now have the flexibility to scale manufacturing. That was the important thing subject,” he stated.

Kuleba and Landsbergis additionally stated that Kyiv and its EU companions have been inching nearer to creating extra funds from the European Peace Facility accessible for long-term weapons, ammunition and different army support deliveries for Ukraine. The EU arrange the fund in 2021 to finance battle decision and safety initiatives

Some EU members, together with Germany and France, have stated the 27-nation bloc must rethink the way it sources the weapons it transfers to Ukraine. They’ve talked about switching away from supplying arms from the nationwide shares of particular person international locations and towards a direct procurement course of.

Kuleba stated that restarting the help deliveries would convey Kyiv nearer to wresting again management over Ukrainian skies from Russia’s vastly bigger and extra trendy air drive. This is able to assist Ukraine push back mass Russian missile and drone strikes, such because the document barrages launched over the weekend of New Yr’s, and supply air cowl for potential offensive operations.

Lithuania, an japanese European nation that spent a long time below Russian and Soviet domination, has been one in all Ukraine’s staunchest allies since Moscow launched its full-scale conflict in February 2022. Landsbergis pledged that assist from the federal government in Vilnius would proceed.

“We’ll by no means pay the value that you just’re paying for safety,” he stated, addressing Kuleba and Ukrainian society. “And so … I can solely apologize that we solely can achieve this a lot, however we’ll nonetheless be doing what we are able to.”

Additionally on Saturday, authorities in Ukraine’s northern Sumy area stated {that a} group of Russian saboteurs shot {dead} two civilians, a brother and sister, residing in a border village lower than 5 kilometers (three miles) from Russia. The Ukrainian Prosecutor Normal’s Workplace stated that it had launched a prison investigation into the capturing, whereas native Gov. Volodymyr Artiukh known as on residents of the border strip to evacuate.

Russian shelling on Friday and in a single day killed two different civilians throughout Ukraine, whereas two others have been wounded, in response to regional Ukrainian officers. In Ukraine’s Russian-occupied south, a 70-year-old girl was wounded in a drone strike launched by the Ukrainian military, a Kremlin-installed regional official reported. It wasn’t instantly potential to confirm both facet’s experiences.


Comply with AP’s protection of the conflict in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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