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13 January, 2020

Washington Post: Ukraine knew Flight 752 had been shot down, but it was careful not to antagonize Iran

Within hours of Iran's stunning admission Saturday that its missile mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, Ukraine made a big reveal of its own

Within hours of Iran's stunning admission Saturday that its missile mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, Ukraine made a big reveal of its own. The country put out photos, taken a day earlier, showing wreckage riddled with small holes, suggesting damage from shrapnel.

Well before Iran admitted shooting down Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 outside Tehran on Wednesday, Ukraine realized the plane had been destroyed by a missile. But the country’s leaders tread a careful diplomatic path.

“The argument already didn’t exist for them to deny all this,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, told The Washington Post.

 

Soon after the plane went down, killing all 176 on board, U.S. officials and the leaders of Canada and Britain told the world they believed the plane was likely shot down by Iran. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked them to share their information with him, but held off announcing any of Ukraine’s conclusions — a strategic decision, Danilov said.

“We came to this conclusion before the Americans and Canadians,” he said.

Ukraine wanted its investigators to gather hard evidence of their own, Danilov said. Officials were careful to avoid sharp criticism of Iran during this time to ensure its cooperation in the probe.

Zelensky, caught between the United States and Iran after a U.S. drone strike killed Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, had the difficult task of securing the “cooperation of Western backers and Iran without being drawn into either side’s narrative of the Iran-U. S. conflict,” said Katharine Quinn-Judge, a Kyiv-based analyst for International Crisis Group.

 

Four days after the plane went down, Zelensky announced that he and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had “agreed on full legal and technical cooperation, including compensation issues.”

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