The deputy spokesperson of the US State Department, Vedant Patel, cast doubt on the Russian accounts of the two incidents in a Jan. 5 statement as reported by Ukrinform.

When asked by a Russian journalist to comment on the Kremlin's statements regarding the IL-76, Patel replied:

“This is the same level of reliability of evidence as in the case when Russia claimed that Crimea belongs to it, or that the entire territory it occupied in Ukraine belongs to it.”

He asserted that Russia has a long history of spreading lies and disinformation.

He also added that Russia's statements about the “shelling of Lysychansk with HIMARS missiles,” during which civilians were killed, cannot be independently verified due to Russia's constant lies.

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Patel expressed distrust of Russia's words, despite the fact that last week Putin personally claimed that the IL-76 was shot down in the Belgorod region by the Ukrainian Patriot air defense system, and calling for an international investigation.

The Russian Defense Ministry alleged that there were 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war on board the IL-76, who were being taken for exchange, as well as six crew members and three escorts. Russia has not yet provided evidence that the Ukrainian POWs were on board the aircraft.

The Main Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine confirmed that an exchange of prisoners of war was planned for January 24, but did not take place.

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Russian Anti-Drone Conference Offers Solutions from Sublime to Ridiculous

Faced with the growing threat from Ukrainian battlefield UAV Russia organized the conference to examine new solutions in St Petersburg on July 1- 2.

When, on Jan. 31, the exchange of POWs between Ukraine and Russia took place, none of those on the Jan. 24 list were included.

President Zelensky has said that the Ukrainian side insists on an international investigation of the incident.

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