Russia has requested an emergency session of the UN Security Council following the Il-76 transport plane crash in the Belgorod Region earlier today, according to a report by the Interfax news agency citing Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
According to Lavrov, Russia “very much expects that the French presidency will fulfil its duties in good faith and convene such a meeting as soon as possible.”
Lavrov told a press conference at the United Nations that Russia had called for the meeting to be held at 3 p.m. Eastern time (20:00 GMT).
Lavrov also claimed the Il-76 was carrying 65 Ukrainian POWs to an exchange with Ukraine, and accused Kyiv of deliberately shooting down the aircraft.
“Instead of this exchange taking place, the Ukrainian side launched an anti-aircraft missile attack on this plane from an area in the Kharkiv region, which proved to be fatal,” the Russian Foreign Minister said.
Ukraine's military intelligence agency, HUR, earlier issued a statement on Telegram saying it did not have “reliable and comprehensive information about who exactly was on board” the Il-76. HUR also stated that on Wednesday, there was no request for ensuring airspace security in the Belgorod area of southern Russia — contrary to previous instances during prisoner-of-war exchanges with Moscow.
HUR stressed that Ukraine, for its part, had fulfilled all the agreements on preparing for the exchange: “The captured Russian servicemen were delivered in time to the agreed place for the exchange, where they were safe.”
It said Russia's accusations that Kyiv shot down the transport plane could be “a planned action to destabilize the situation in Ukraine and weaken international support for our state.”
On January 24, an Il-76 military transport plane crashed 50 kilometers northeast of Belgorod in southern Russia. The Russian Defense Ministry claims that 74 people were on board: 65 captured Ukrainian servicemen, who were en route to an exchange, six crew members, and three guards.