The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has established the Kremlin's involvement in the crash of the Ukrainian strategic airlifter Il-76 at Luhansk airport five years ago.
"Five years ago, on 14 June 2014, employees of the Russian military intelligence (GRU) shot down the [Ukrainian] Defence Ministry's military-transport aircraft Il-76 above Luhansk. This horrible catastrophe took the lives of 49 servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The security service has undeniable evidence that the decision to shoot it down was taken in the Kremlin and carried out by a non-staff unit of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, aka the Wagner private military company," the SBU said.
SBU investigators established that the criminal order was issued directly by the commander of the 58th army of the Russian Armed Forces, Maj-Gen Yevgeniy Nikiforov, who was dispatched to Donbas for the purposes of military incursion and occupation of a part of the sovereign country's territory. The Ukrainian servicemen were murdered by Dmitriy Utkin, Andrey Guralyov and Andrey Lebedev who, upon return to Russia, were awarded official state awards, the Courage Order, by President Vladimir Putin.
The Il-76 aircraft carrying troops, food and ammunition for Ukrainian units encircled near Luhansk was shot down by the Russians as it was landing at the local airport. There were nine crew members and 40 servicemen of the 25th detached airborne brigade based in Dnipro.