On January 24, the international community was stunned by the Il-76 plane crash in the Belgorod region of the Russian Federation. The incident caused a stir and provoked a lot of contradictory statements, especially between Ukraine and Russia. Amidst the chaos, Ukrainian media claim that the disastrous plane was carrying missiles for the S-300 air defense system to firing positions allegedly used in recent attacks on Ukrainian regions. This article discusses developments, analyzes available information, and explains controversial contentions.
Plane crash and disputes
The crash of the Il-76 plane, which occurred as a result of detonation when it was falling towards the ground, became the central topic of the dispute between Russia and Ukraine. Ukrainian media, citing unnamed sources, claim that the plane was headed for the firing positions used in the recent shelling of Kharkiv. Among the available evidence is a large field of debris and the human remains away from the crash site.
After the disaster, Russia made contradictory explanations as to the crash. One of the most common versions is that Ukraine shot down the Il-76. Almost immediately, Russian Telegram channels began to spread information about more than 60 Ukrainian prisoners of war on board. But later about 50 channels denied this information. It is worth noting that Russia has not published an official list of the dead, fueling speculation and questioning the legitimacy of the information provided.
OSINT analysts have conducted an independent investigation of the incident and offered an unexpected version: the Il-76 was shot down during takeoff, moving in the opposite direction from the Ukrainian border. Witnesses and local residents confirm that the plane took off from Belgorod airfield. In addition, the plane’s flight path, along with the large objects that were found on the crash site, proves the assumption of a purposeful incident.
Transportation of prisoners of war
The claim that the IL-76 was transporting Ukrainian prisoners of war was met with skepticism. Experts say that such planes are not normally used to transport prisoners of war, and the stated number of escorts (three people) seems insufficient for more than 60 prisoners. Before arriving in Belgorod, Il-76 was allegedly involved in the transportation of weapons in the Middle East, which questions the credibility of the claims about the prisoners.
Russian information war
The incident shows Russia’s tendency to wreak havoc in the global information space by spreading conflicting narratives. The lack of transparency and the rapid withdrawal of some claims, raises doubts about the accuracy of the information provided by the Russian authorities.
During the investigation of the Il-76 crash, the international community should understand all these conflicting narratives and carefully evaluate the available evidence. Russia’s manner of stirring things up in information warfare requires a critical analysis of the facts in order to discover the truth about this tragic event.