“This may indicate Russia’s deliberate actions aimed at endangering the lives and safety of prisoners,” Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence said. “Landing a transport aircraft in a 30-kilometer war zone cannot be safe and in any case must be discussed by both sides, otherwise it endangers the entire exchange process.”
Ukrainian watchdog Media Initiative for Human Rights said it is currently unable to confirm or deny “any of the versions of the crash,” as further investigations require time and access to Russian territory.
Yet the organization is raising doubts over the Kremlin’s narrative, arguing that the “promptness and coordination” of Russia’s reaction looks “very strange and unusual” and that there are discrepancies in the published list of victims.
“But at the moment, all this is very circumstantial evidence, insufficient to draw conclusions,” head of the initiative Olha Reshetylova said. “We are working and will definitely conduct our own investigation.”
Kyiv and Moscow have conducted multiple prisoner swaps since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago.
However, prisoner swaps have become increasingly rare, with Kyiv accusing Moscow of using POWs as a political weapon.