Ukraine ‘considers us meat’ – POW who died in Belgorod crash

Ukrainian POW Konstantin Danilchenko (1978-2024) in a still from a 2022 video released by the Russian Defense Ministry ©  RT

One of the soldiers about to be exchanged had testified about Kiev’s disdain for its troops Ukrainian POW Konstantin Danilchenko (1978-2024) in a still from a 2022 video released by the Russian Defense Ministry © RT

One of the Ukrainian prisoners who died on Wednesday had spoken to RT in 2022 about why he surrendered. Konstantin Danilchenko was on the plane shot down by Ukrainian missiles over Russia’s Belgorod Region, with no survivors.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Il-76 was carrying 65 prisoners scheduled to be exchanged later in the day. It was struck by two missiles, launched from Ukraine’s Kharkov Region, and went down on Wednesday morning. Everyone on board perished, including three Russian soldiers and six crew members.

RT found Danilchenko’s name on the passenger manifest of the doomed flight, at number 11. It sounded familiar because of a 2022 video published by the Russian Defense Ministry, in which the recently captured Ukrainian soldier spoke about his reasons for surrendering.

“I wanted to live,” Danilchenko said in the video. “We are considered ‘meat’, and everyone understands why our leadership is so cold towards us.”

Ukraine has accused Russia of using “human wave” attacks on the battlefield. According to many Ukrainian POWs, it is Kiev that is actually doing so.

Deadly IL-76 crash: What we know so far Deadly IL-76 crash: What we know so far

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Deadly IL-76 crash: What we know so far

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that Ukraine had been informed about the transport of the prisoners by air, accusing Kiev of shooting down the plane with their citizens on purpose in a “terrorist act.”

Ukrainian media initially reported that a plane resupplying missiles to Russian troops targeting Kharkov had been shot down. Those reports were quietly deleted when it emerged that the Il-76 was transporting Ukrainian prisoners. The General Staff in Kiev issued a statement calling Russian transport flights a legitimate target because of attacks on Kharkov, but did not address the fate of the POWs.

The Ukrainian military has deliberately targeted its prisoners before, firing a volley of US-supplied HIMARS missiles on the stockade in Yelenovka in August 2022 and killing 50 members of the notorious neo-Nazi ‘Azov’ unit that had been captured in Mariupol.

Kiev has never officially confirmed how many troops it has lost over the past two years. Last month, President Vladimir Zelensky announced the need to mobilize 500,000 additional soldiers to replace battlefield losses and raise new units. Earlier this month, Ukraine’s former prosecutor general Yury Lutsenko urged the government to reveal the true extent of combat casualties – which he estimated at 500,000 – to inspire people to enlist.

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