Russia alleges UK advisors ‘downed’ Russian Il-76 carrying POWs

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Sputnik, a Russian media outlet, reported that an unnamed source alleges a Russian Il-76 aircraft carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war was shot down over Belgorod allegedly under the direction of “British advisers to Kyiv.” The report implies the attack was executed in a rushed and uncoordinated manner due to severe pressure. 

Photo credit: Rosoboronexport

According to the unidentified source, “British advisers in Kyiv exerted pressure leading to the decision to strike the Il-76. The action was carried out hastily, without coordination with the air defense headquarters in Kyiv or verification of information related to the aircraft’s movements over the Belgorod region.” It’s crucial to note, however, that Sputnik does not disclose any additional information about this source, such as a name, position, nationality, or the timing and location of the statement. 

To give you some context, BulgarianMilitary.com reiterates that the Russian Investigative Committee reported the Ukrainian armed forces used a MIM-104A guided missile, fired from a Patriot system, to down the plane.

Russia claims

Upon careful examination of the crash site, experts were able to identify 116 individual parts of an anti-aircraft missile, each bearing inscriptions in English. These parts, they concluded, make up the components of the MIM-104A missile. This missile belongs to the Patriot system, a product known to be supplied by the United States to Ukraine. 

Alongside the missile fragments, the experts discovered remnants of an explosive compound. This compound comprises predominantly hexogen, with approximately 10 percent being octogen – a mix typically associated with Western missiles. The presence of these elements was confirmed by analyzing debris samples from the site. 

From these findings, we can infer that the Il-76 of the Russian Air Force was indeed brought down by the American Patriot anti-aircraft system. Contrary to earlier theories suggesting interference from external factors, flight data from the aircraft indicated no such anomalies. Thus, the alternative theory regarding a side impact has been effectively debunked by experts. Their primary task now is to identify the exact missile responsible for the tragic downing of the aircraft.

Expert opinion

Canada’s own defense technologies expert, Mike Mihajlovic, is making waves on his X [formerly Twitter] account as he presents what he firmly maintains is a remnant of a Patriot missile, that targeted a Russian aircraft. 

“This fragment originates from a Patriot missile,” he emphatically declared. Mihajlovic further elaborates that the Patriot missile is triggered by a component known as a proximity fuse, hinting that it could be a relatively older model, such as the MIM-104A or the MIM-104D/E PAC-2. “To efficiently bring down a transport aircraft, an earlier model of missile is typically the weapon of choice,” he observed. 

According to Mihajlovic, the impact on the airplane bears all the hallmarks of a meticulously planned ambush aimed solely at destroying the transport aircraft. Such a hypothesis is based on the predictability of weather conditions and flight paths. After the crash, debris and fragmented pieces of the missile scatter extensively around the crash site, covering a range of 1.5 to 2 kilometers, and even becoming entangled within the wreckage itself.

The attack

As previously reported, a tragic incident occurred on January 24, 2024. An IL-76, a Russian aircraft carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war, was struck by two anti-aircraft missiles in the Belgorod region. These lethal missiles were launched from Liptsi, a location in the Kharkiv region. Regrettably, this horrific event resulted in the loss of 74 lives, including 65 captive Ukrainians, a crew of six, and three additional individuals on board. 

Interestingly, Ukrainian authorities have not been transparent about whether the plane was indeed shot down. While they haven’t denied the incident, their apparent reluctance to admit it is significant. Observers suggest that perhaps President Zelensky is trying to obscure the details of this event amidst a flurry of other controversies, including the issue around Zaluzhny.  

Photo credit: Yandex

On the other hand, Russian President Vladimir Putin has clearly articulated his stance, characterizing the attack as a crime perpetrated by the Kyiv regime against their own citizens. He argues that, despite knowing there were prisoners of war from the Ukrainian Armed Forces on board, the Ukrainian military initiated the assault. Echoing Putin’s sentiments, the Russian Foreign Ministry questioned the feasibility of any potential agreements with Kyiv, in light of the circumstances surrounding the plane crash.

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