August 26, 2021
Iran and Ukraine have denied reports from Kyiv on Tuesday that a Ukrainian plane was hijacked by armed militants after it landed in Kabul over the weekend, who then flew it to Iran.
According to TASS, the Russian news agency, Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minster Yevgeny Yenin said identified armed hijackers stole one of their aircraft that had landed at Hamid Karzai International Airport and flew it to Iran on Sunday.
“Last Sunday, our plane was hijacked by other people. On Tuesday, the plane was practically stolen from us, it flew into Iran with an unidentified group of passengers onboard instead of airlifting Ukrainians. Our next three evacuation attempts were also not successful because our people could not get into the airport,” Yenin said, according to TASS.
The minister said the hijackers were armed but didn’t say anything else about the plane and who was on it.
Iran’s Civil Aviation Authority has since denied the report, saying the plane actually refueled in the north-eastern Iranian city of Mashhad and then flew to Kyiv.
A spokesperson for Ukraine’s Foreign Minister also denied the reports.
Oleg Nikolenko told RBC Ukraine news agency: “There are no captured Ukrainian planes in Kabul or elsewhere. The information about the ‘captured plane’ that is being circulated by some media outlets is not true.”
Nikolenko said Yenin was attempting to explain the difficulties diplomats faced when evacuating Ukrainians from the war-torn country, after the country fell to the Taliban on August 15.
A military plane with 83 people on board, including 31 Ukrainians arrived from Afghanistan to Kyiv on Sunday. The presidential office reported that 12 Ukrainian military workers returned home, while foreign reporters and public figures who requested help were also evacuated.
The office added that around 100 more Ukrainians are expected to be evacuated from Afghanistan.
Previously, we’ve several incidents of Ukrainian planes having trouble in Iran. On January 8, 2020, a Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737-800 was shot down by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
The incident occurred shortly after the aircraft took off from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport and it was bound for the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. All 176 people on board died in the crash.
After conducting an investigation into the incident, Iranian officials later admitted that they had shot down the plane, because they mistook it for a missile.
However, in April, Oleksiy Danilov, a senior Ukrainian security official, said he believed it was intentional, and a way for Tehran to end the cycle of military aggression with Washington.
The Ukrainian government backed the Danilov’s position.