Russian claim of Ukrainian PoW deaths on downed Il-76 aims to divide global backing – Kyiv
Mykola Oleshchuk (Photo: AFU)

By making allegations about the supposed death of Ukrainian prisoners on board the Il-76 plane destroyed near Belgorod on Wednesday, the Russians are trying to reduce aid to Ukraine from its partners, Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk said.

The Ukrainian military will destroy the occupiers in any place, he said, noting that Kharkiv, Kherson, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhya and other front-line cities are under the attack of enemy missiles, bombs and drones every day.

The Air Force is doing everything possible to beat the Russians both in the sky and on the ground.

"Many Russian planes and their crews will never be able to terrorize our people. They are destroyed. We have more and more tools and opportunities to reach the enemy where he does not expect it," the general said.

Oleshchuk stressed that on Wednesday, Russian propaganda is massively spreading fakes to an external audience and trying to discredit Ukraine in the eyes of the world community.

"The goal is obvious – they want to reduce international support for our state. It will not work. Ukraine has the right to protect and destroy the aggressor's means of air attack," the military commander concluded.

Earlier, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reacted to the situation around the downing of the Il-76 aircraft in Russia. In an evening video message, he stated that Ukraine will insist on an international investigation.

On January 24, a Russian Il-76 transport plane, used to transport military cargo, crashed in Belgorod Oblast of Russia.

The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation claimed that there were allegedly Ukrainian prisoners of war on board the downed IL-76.

Ukraine's Defense Intelligence stated that they did not have verified information about who exactly was on board the IL-76, but confirmed that there was indeed a planned exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, "which did not take place."