Russian authorities have released a grainy 79-second video showing six minibusses led by an emergency vehicle approaching and parking beside a large aircraft. This footage, according to Russian officials, is meant to substantiate their account of the mysterious plane crash near Belgorod earlier this week.
As per Russia's Investigative Committee, which published the video on Telegram on Friday, the footage depicts "Ukrainian war prisoners boarding an Il-76 plane that crashed in the Belgorod region due to a terrorist attack."
Russia has consistently claimed that among the 74 casualties of the flight were 65 Ukrainian war prisoners, part of a planned exchange. Russia accuses the Ukrainian military of shooting down the plane.
On the Ukrainian side, while confirming a planned prisoner exchange on the day of the crash, there is ambiguity regarding the exact passengers aboard the Il-76. Ukraine neither confirmed nor denied involvement in the aircraft's downing.
The state-run Russian news agency Tass reported on the video from the Investigative Committee, stating, "The Ukrainian prisoners exited the buses and boarded the plane."
The blurry footage indeed shows black dots resembling people moving between the buses and the aircraft. However, it is unclear how many individuals are present or, more importantly, their identities.
There is also no independent verification of when and where the footage was taken or whether it indeed shows the plane that crashed on Wednesday. The video is without sound.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a statement on the same day, addressed the incident. "I ask the Investigative Committee to publish as many details about this crime as possible so that people in Ukraine can understand what really happened," he stated. Putin emphasized that investigative units are working on every fact, which is becoming "increasingly comprehensive."
Putin also denied any possibility of Russia shooting down its aircraft, citing the country's air defense systems that make it "impossible to attack our planes."
"I don't know if they (Ukraine) did it deliberately or if it was a mistake. But it is clear that they did it," Putin added.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, labeled Putin's statements as "classic disinformation."