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Military transport planes of RF are legitimate target for Armed Forces - Ukraine's representative to UN

Military transport planes of RF are legitimate target for Armed Forces - Ukraine's representative to UN Photo: Russia could use Ukrainian prisoners as human shields (Getty Images)

Ukraine was not informed about the transportation of its military prisoners on the Il-76 plane that crashed in the Belgorod region. If confirmed, this would indicate the first instance of Russia using individuals as a human shield to cover the transportation of ammunition used in attacks on Ukrainian cities, stated the Deputy Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN, Khrystyna Hayovyshyn, during the UN Security Council meeting on January 25th.

She reminded that over the past week, Russia has intensified missile strikes on the territory of the Kharkiv region, resulting in mass casualties and injuries among civilians.

Hayovyshyn linked these attacks to the increased number of military transport planes, particularly Il-76, that have recently been heading to the Belgorod aerodrome.

"The Armed Forces of Ukraine are taking all necessary measures to protect the civillian population from Russian missile attacks, as well as to reduce the missile threat. Especially from the Belgorod region. The Armed forces of Ukraine will continue to take measures to destroy the delivery means and control the air space to eliminate the terrorist thread, in particular the Kharkiv-Belgorod direction. Let me remind you that according to the laws of warfare, military transport aircraft of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is a legitimate military target, " she said.

Ukraine's Permanent Representative to the UN also reminded that on January 24th, a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia was supposed to take place, but it did not happen. According to her, the Ukrainian side fulfilled its obligations - the Russian prisoners of war were timely delivered to an agreed-upon location and safely awaited the exchange.

"The Russian side was supposed to ensure the same level of safety of Ukrainian captured servicemen. At the same time the Ukrainian side was not informed of the need to secure the air space in the area of Belgorod city during the specified period, as has been done repeatedly in the past," noted Hayovyshyn.

She also pointed out that Ukraine was not informed about the number of vehicles, routes, and methods of transporting the prisoners. She emphasized that this could already indicate intentional actions by Russia to create a threat to the lives and safety of the prisoners.

"If the information that there were Ukrainian prisoners of war on board is confirmed, we will have another confirmation of a violation of international humanitarian law by Russia. And the first case of Russia using a human shield in the air to cover the transportation of missiles for the use against peaceful Ukrainian cities," concluded Ukraine's representative to the UN.

Il-76 crash in Belgorod region

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

However, Russia claims that the plane allegedly had 65 prisoners, 6 crew members, and 3 escorts on board. Moscow accuses Ukraine of shooting down the aircraft.

The General Staff of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine confirmed that a prisoner exchange was indeed planned for January 24th. However, they did not confirm Russia's information about the presence of Ukrainian prisoners on the plane.

The Security Service of Ukraine has initiated a criminal investigation into the crash. The investigation is ongoing under Article 438 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (violations of laws and customs of war).

Russia called for a meeting of the UN Security Council on January 25th regarding the plane crash, during which it attempted to shift responsibility for the incident onto Kyiv.