People and rescue teams are pictured amid bodies and debris after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran, Jan 9, 2020. (AFP)

April 16, 2021

Ukraine’s security chief said he believes the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane by Iran’s military over Tehran in January 2020 was an intentional act rather than an accident as claimed by the Iranian regime.

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defence council, told Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail in an interview published on Friday, that he believes the incident was a “conscious attack.”

“When they say this was accidental … I don’t buy that,” Danilov told The Globe and Mail. “It was intentional. This was a conscious attack.”

He said that Iran’s refusal to allow international investigators full access to the evidence has led him to believe that Tehran downed the plane intentionally.

“Iran does not allow anybody to examine this tragedy, and they postpone or slow down any investigations. The fact that they are investigating themselves is rather surprising, to put it politely,” Danilov said.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 on January 8, 2020, killing all 176 people on board. The majority of passengers were Iranian. Citizens from Canada, Ukraine, Britain and Afghanistan were also among the passengers.

After denying responsibility for three days, Iran admitted to downing the plane, declaring it a “disastrous mistake.”

Danilov’s hypothesis is that Iran was looking for a way to prevent a tit-for-tat situation with the United States.

Hours before the plane was shot down, Iran had struck US military bases in Iraq in response to the US killing of the commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani days earlier.

Iran wanted to make sure there would be no US response to its attack on American military bases in Iraq, according to Danilov.

“Since January 8 of last year, the question has remained in my head: ‘Why do they do this?’ If you remember MH17, which the Russians shot down on the order of military authorities … active military actions came to a halt after this crash, because the whole world was focused on understanding what happened,” he said, referring to the downing of flight Malaysia Airlines in 2014.

“If you project this logic onto what happened on January 8, there was the Soleimani assassination, after which total war was expected. After shooting down the plane and killing our citizens, among others, this [total war] went from first priority to 10th priority,” Danilov added.

Through these remarks, Danilov, as Ukraine’s security chief, is representing the Ukrainian government, Ukraine’s deputy Foreign Minister Yevhen Yenin told The Globe and Mail.

“We don’t believe the version of human error until we see the evidence.” Yenin said, according to the newspaper.

Rehana Dhirani, whose father Asghar Dhirani died in the crash, wrote on Twitter on Friday: “We’ve always known #PS752 was intentional, the excuse of ‘human error’ is a pathetic attempt to cover the actions of the regime.”

Last month, Iran published its final report into the incident. “The plane was identified as a hostile target due to a mistake by the air defence operator…near Tehran and two missiles were fired at it,” the report said, according to the website of Iran’s civil aviation body.

Commenting on the Iranian report, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba described it as, “nothing more than a cynical attempt to hide the true reasons for the downing of our plane.”

“We will not allow Iran to hide the truth, we will not allow it to avoid responsibility for this crime,” Kuleba wrote on Facebook.

In December, Canada’s former foreign minister Francois-Philippe Champagne had also said he does not believe Iranian claims that the plane was shot down as a result of “human error.”

Al Arabiya

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.