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Armed Forces of Ukraine Aviation War in Ukraine

EXPLAINED: Russian IL-76 Downed, But Who Was On Board?

Ukraine has raised the possibility of a “deliberate provocation,” claiming that several high-ranking Russian officials were prohibited by FSB to board the aircraft at the last minute.

Jan. 26

LATEST: After this video was published on Friday evening, President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of shooting down the Russian IL-76 military transport plane this week and alleged that Ukraine knew it was carrying prisonders of war.

"The main intelligence department of the Ukrainian army knew that we were taking 65 servicemen there. They did it by mistake or thoughtlessly, but they did it," Putin said.

On Wednesday, a Russian IL-76 plane fell from the sky in Russia’s western Belgorod region, crashing into the ground in a giant fireball and killing everyone on board.

According to the region’s governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, the crash occurred around 10 a.m. Kyiv time in the Korochansky district, northeast of the Belgorod region’s capital.

Currently, that is just about everything that anyone can agree on.

The two crucial questions that remain definitively unanswered are – who shot it down? And who was on board?

Russia has said 65 Ukrainian POWs were on the flight but the evidence they’ve provided so far raises more questions than answers.

And a heated international blame game has already reached the highest levels of the United Nations.

Who shot it down?

Russia is not usually in a hurry to acknowledge that one of its planes has been downed by Kyiv but in this case they were very swift to accuse a “missile from the territory of Ukraine” as being responsible.

Moscow described it as a “monstrous act” and Russia's Investigative Committee said on Thursday that it had opened a “terrorism” inquiry into the crash.

In the immediate aftermath of the crash, Ukrainian media cited defence sources saying it had downed the plane but the claim was later retracted.

In later statements, officials including President Zelensky did not take responsibility for downing the plane and instead called for an international investigation.

Ukraine’s SBU security service also opened its own criminal probe into the incident.

Who was on board the plane?

This is where things get even murkier – initial claims from Ukraine said the plane was carrying ammunition for S-300 missile systems.

Find out more in the video above...