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Defense Intelligence on thwarted military exchange: 'Supposed to be one of the largest during war'

Defense Intelligence on thwarted military exchange: 'Supposed to be one of the largest during war' Andrii Yusov, a representative of the Defense Intelligence of Ukraine (Photo: RBC-Ukraine, Vitalii Nosach)

The exchange of prisoners with Russia, scheduled for January 24, was supposed to be one of the largest in the history of the full-scale war, according to a representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Andrii Yusov.

"We will not provide an exact number (of prisoners to be exchanged). Such things are not practiced before the exchange until it takes place. But it was supposed to be one of the largest exchanges in the history of the full-scale war. And, in general, it can be said that it was supposed to be the anniversary - the 50th, but unfortunately, it did not happen," said Yusov.

Regarding the lists of Ukrainian prisoners published by Russian propagandists, he noted that the information is being studied, and communication with the families of the prisoners is ongoing.

"So the lists that appear through Russian propaganda sources appear to test and provoke a reaction. We will not comment on them," added the representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate.

Yusov pointed out that if Russia officially wants to disclose the lists, it should do so through structures directly involved in working with prisoners - the Ministry of Defense, intelligence agencies, humanitarian headquarters, etc.

"Of course, there will be official comments then. Currently, this is deliberate information-psychological work of the enemy," emphasized the representative of Ukrainian intelligence.

Il-76 crash and the disrupted prisoner exchange

On January 24, in the Korocha district of the Belgorod region, a Russian military transport plane, Il-76, crashed. Sources of RBC-Ukraine report that the aircraft was carrying missiles for the S-300 air defense system.

At the same time, Russia claims that allegedly there were 65 prisoners, 6 crew members, and 3 accompanying persons on the plane. Moscow accuses Ukraine of shooting down the plane.

The Main Intelligence Directorate confirmed that an exchange was indeed planned that day. However, they do not verify the statement that Ukrainian prisoners were on the reconnaissance plane.

Also, the representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate, Andrii Yusov, noted that intelligence does not rule out that there could be both rockets and people on board the Il-76 that crashed near Belgorod. There could also be VIP persons from Russia.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that the Russians are playing with the lives of Ukrainian prisoners. He called for an international investigation.

According to the Ukrainian ombudsman, Dmytro Lubinets, there is no evidence to suggest that dozens of people were on board the Il-76, as claimed by Russia.

The Security Service of Ukraine opened a case regarding the crash of the Il-76 in the Belgorod region. The investigation is being conducted under Article 438 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (violation of the laws and customs of war).