Russian Il-76 landing in… Ukraine

An Ilyushin Il-76 (reg. RA-76429) from the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations, departing from Moscow’s Zhukovsky Airport, is landing at the Ukrainian airport of Poltava. This is highly unusual for two reasons: firstly, seeing a Russian aircraft with its transponder on flying over Ukrainian territory is extremely rare, except for those landing in the occupied Crimea; secondly, Poltava is currently under the control of Ukrainian forces, indicating that this flight was likely coordinated between Kiev and Moscow.

Therefore, we can speculate that this may be a prisoner exchange between the two countries, recalling the case of the IL-76 shot down by Kiev last month, in which Moscow claimed there were dozens of Ukrainian prisoners destined for an exchange. However, it’s worth noting that the bodies, crucially, were never found, indicating that this mode of prisoner transport is not as unusual as one might think.

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