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US Patriot missiles shoot down Russian military plane: Moscow

Russian investigation committee at the site of crash of the Il-76 Russian military transport plane.(Photo by Tass News Agency)

Russian investigators say they have evidence that a US Patriot air defense system was used to shoot down a Russian Il-76 military transport plane that crashed near the border with Ukraine last week.

"The fragments seized from the scene, according to their design features, geometric characteristics and available markings, are structural elements of the MIM-104A anti-aircraft guided missile of the Patriot complex of the United States, developed by Raytheon and Hughes corporations and manufactured by Raytheon," the investigating committee said in a statement on Thursday. 

During a presidential campaign event on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, “It’s been definitively established that the plane was shot down by an American Patriot air defense system.”

Putin added that Moscow “insists” on an international investigation into the incident, which took place in western Russia’s Belgorod region on January 24.

The plane crash resulted in the death of 74 people on board, including nine Russian crew members and 65 captured Ukrainian soldiers who Moscow said were en route to be swapped for Russian prisoners of war.

The investigative committee said that Ukrainian soldiers in the area of Lyptsi in the Kharkiv region that borders Russia had fired two missiles at the military transport plane.

"The following markings were found on the seized fragments: 'ASSY 11455748', 'SN740179', 'ASSY 11461343', 'SN740206', 'ASSY 11461865', 'SN740207', 'Raytheon', 'CONFIDENTIAL classified by PATRIOT SECURITY CLASSIFICATION GUIDE DATED: 9/22/83 ADDENDUM DATED 11/28/83 8/8/84 CONTRACT NO/DAAH01-86C-A018'," the committee said in a statement.

Ukraine has neither confirmed nor denied the charge, but has challenged details of Moscow's account and called for an international investigation.

As per the figures given by the US Department of State in December 2023, Washington has provided approximately $44.2 billion in military aid in the form of training and war equipment to Ukraine since the Russia-Ukraine conflict started in February 2022.

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