"It was taking off, not landing": Kovalenko exposes Russia's lies about the IL-76 crash and points out important nuances
The Russian Defense Ministry's claims about Ukrainian prisoners of war on board the IL-76 military transport plane that crashed on January 24 in the Belgorod region are fake. The plane was taking off, not landing, and photos from the scene do not show the bodies of the "dozens of people" who were allegedly on board.
Instead, the nature of the damage to the plane indicates that a powerful detonation occurred. This was stated by military expert Oleksandr Kovalenko in a comment to OBOZ.UA.
He noted that the loss of each IL-76 military transport aircraft is a very painful loss for Russia. In addition, each lost aircraft is also a factor of humiliation for Russia. Especially if the Russians lose their aircraft on their own territory, supposedly covered by Russian air defense.
This is the reason why this time, just like before, Russia has started to produce a lot of fakes about what happened.
Kovalenko noted that he is 99.9% sure that the Russians lied about the presence of Ukrainian prisoners of war on board the IL-76.
"Prisoners of war are not transported by air. They are transported either by rail or by road. Moreover, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense, there were 3 convoys for 65 prisoners. This is unrealistic. Any officer of the federal security service will tell you that it should have been several times more convoys. It is impossible for 65 prisoners to be under the control of three people. Even if they are armed, even if they have weapons," he said.
The stories about three escorts for almost seven dozen people look especially ridiculous if these people are on board the plane, Kovalenko believes. After all, those being transported on the plane could hijack it, organize a terrorist attack, etc. So the version voiced by the Russian Defense Ministry looks too fantastic in terms of risks.
At the same time, the first photos from the crash site do not show any bodies.
"Of course, when the first photo of the IL-76 crash site appeared, we did not see a single body there. There is not a single body on the field! Although in fact 74 people (including the crew and escorts - Ed.) were supposed to be on the plane," Kovalenko said.
He recalled other plane crashes, including the downing of Malaysian Boeing flight MH-17. The photos from the site where the plane crashed after being hit by terrorists show the wreckage of the plane, the fuselage, and the bodies of those on board: the field was littered with human remains.
Even after the crash of the private plane of the leader of the Wagner PMC, Yevhen Prigozhin, the bodies were visible in the photo, despite the fact that the plane itself was small and there were only 10 people on board.
"And here there are 70, more than 70 bodies - and they are not in any of the photos we have seen. This suggests that the entire crew was in the cockpit. And they died in the cockpit," Kovalenko emphasized.
He also drew attention to the fact that the plane was taking off, not landing, as it should have been in the case of a hypothetical delivery of prisoners of war for exchange.
"If it was landing, we could talk about the transportation of something. For example, if they are talking about prisoners of war, they were transported to be exchanged. But, again, it had to be going to the landing itself. And most importantly, no exchanges were planned in the future (later the DIU confirmed that the exchange was planned for January 24 - Ed.)" - the expert emphasized.
Kovalenko summarized that the version with prisoners of war on board the IL-76 is a fake. Instead, the version about the transportation of missiles for the S-300 complexes by this transporter is much more likely to be true.
Since the IL-76 was taking off, it had to have full fuel tanks, so the detonation would have happened anyway, the expert emphasized. However, there are certain markers that make it doubtful that they were the only ones that detonated.
"There is information that there were S-300 missiles on board this plane, for S-300 systems. And the photos that we can now see from open sources show a large spread of the fuselage. It is not compactly placed at the explosion site. It was scattered over the field for 5 kilometers, even more, 10 kilometers, according to various sources. So, this suggests that in addition to the detonation of fuel, there was also a detonation of the ammunition that was on board the aircraft. Therefore, I am sure that it was carrying some kind of weapon that detonated," Kovalenko summarized.
As a reminder, on January 24, an IL-76 military plane crashed in the Belgorod region. Russian propagandists claimed that there were 60 to 80 people on board, while the Russian Defense Ministry said that the plane was carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war for exchange, accompanied by three escorts.
Meanwhile, a number of public media outlets reported that the downed plane had flown over Egypt earlier that day: it could have been returning from Iran, according to monitoring channels.