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Russia, Ukraine trade plane crash blame at UN Security Council

Moscow and Kyiv traded accusations Thursday at the UN Security Council after the crash of a Russian military plane near the Ukraine border a day earlier. “All of the information that we have today show that we are dealing with a premeditated, thought through crime,” said Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, whose delegation had requested the emergency meeting. Moscow accuses Kyiv of downing the IL-76 transport plane, which it said was carrying 65 captured Ukrainian soldiers ahead of a planned prisoner exchange. “The leadership of Ukraine knew the route very well, knew about the way the soldiers were going to be transported to the place of exchange,” Polyanskiy said. It was not the first prisoner exchange between the two sides, but this time Kyiv “for some inexplicable reason decided to sabotage this procedure and do it in the most barbaric way possible,” he said, accusing Ukraine of sacrificing its troops “to Western geopolitical interests.” Polyanskiy praised the “heroism” of the pilots for steering the plane away from residential areas and avoiding casualties on the ground. Ukraine pushed back on the accusations that it was behind a plot to take down the plane. “Ukraine was not informed about the number of vehicles, roads and means of transportation of the captives. This alone may constitute intentional actions by Russia to endanger the lives and safety of the prisoners,” Deputy Ambassador Khrystyna Hayovyshyn said. The Russian prisoners in the exchange had been transferred to the agreed-upon location, she said. “The Russian side was supposed to ensure the same level of safety of Ukrainian captured servicemen,” she said. If it’s confirmed that Ukrainian prisoners of war were indeed aboard the plane, it would be another violation of humanitarian law by Russia and “the first case of Russia using a human shield in the air to cover the transportation of missiles for their further use against peaceful Ukrainian cities,” Hayovyshyn charged. Ukraine’s allies maintained that Russia carried the blame for invading its neighbor in the first place. “Russia has repeatedly attempted to shift responsibility for the tragedies of this senseless war of choice, as though it is the victim and not the aggressor,” US deputy envoy Robert Wood said.

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