Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defence Council (NSDC), said in an interview with Babel that the Ukrainian prisoners who were to be exchanged were not in the Russian Il-76 downed on 24 January.
"I can tell you for sure whether our prisoners were there," Danilov said.
He explained that such conclusions can be drawn based on the experience that Ukraine had after the downing of the UIA plane in Iran in January 2020.
"Had this happened, believe me, the amount of biological material - what is called, let's say, the dead - would have been in such a quantity... if they say there were 65 of them... that they would have definitely used it, and they would have filmed it all, and that field... it would have been red with blood," Danilov said.
He said that Russia had made up this story.
"I emphasise once again, if this were happening, believe me, Lavrov would have been there at the UN - another strange office of our time - he would have been screaming and showing it all. They have nothing to show," Danilov said.
The crash of the Il-76
- On the afternoon of 24 January, an IL-76 military transport aircraft crashed in Russia's Belgorod Region. The Russians claimed that there were allegedly Ukrainian prisoners of war on board and accused Ukraine of shooting down the plane.
- Ukraine's security agencies confirmed that an exchange had been planned but never happened. They are verifying the Russian claims about Ukrainian POWs on board the crashed plane.
- Meanwhile, Radio Liberty identified some of the crew members as servicemen of the Orenburg-based 117th Military Transport Aviation Regiment, which is known to deliver special cargo for Russian troops, such as shells.