Image from the crash of a Russian IL-76 military transport in Russia’s Belgorod region, near the Ukraine border, January 24, 2024

Wednesday’s Coverage: Russia Kills 18, Wounds 130 in Latest Missile Strikes

Map: Institute for the Study of War


A Moscow court has imprisoned Igor Girkin, a leading critic of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, to four years for “extremism”.

A former commander of Russian proxy forces in eastern Ukraine, Girkin has repeatedly derided Putin and Defense Secretary Sergey Shoygu for mismanagement of the invasion.

He was convicted by a Dutch court over the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over the Donetsk region in July 2014, killing 283 passengers and 15 crew.

Girkin was arrested last summer in his apartment and charged with “calls for extremism” after months of his criticisms.


Russian authorities have sentenced
Darya Trepova, 26, to 27 years in prison for delivering the bomb that killed prominent military blogger Maxim Fomin, a.k.a. Vladlen Tatarsky, on April 2, 2003.

Trepova was convicted by a St Petersburg court on charges including terrorism.

Tatarsky was slain by a bomb concealed inside a statuette in his likeness, presented to him as a gift during a talk he was giving in a St. Petersburg cafe.

Trepova said she was set up, believing the statuette contained a listening device and not a bomb.

Tatarsky had more than 560,000 followers on Telegram.


Ukraine says it received no request, written or verbal, from Russia to secure airspace around the area of Belgorod where a Russian Il-76 military transport plane crashed on Wednesday.

Ukrainian military intelligence spokesperson Andriy Yusov said:

Unfortunately, we can assume various scenarios, including provocation as well as the use of Ukrainian prisoners as a human shield for transporting ammunition and weapons for S-300 systems.


Ukraine Energy Minister German Galushchenko said the country is “very close” to being self-sufficient in gas for 2024: “It is realistic to reach the zero gas balance this year.”

Ukraine has not bought gas from Russia since 2015. It has imported from European countries and stepped up its production.

Galushchenko said that because of lower consumption, Ukraine could resume substantial energy exports as soon as this spring.


The Ukraine State security service SBU has claimed responsibility for the attack on the oil refinery in Tuapse in the Krasnodar region in southwest Russia (see 0750 GMT):

This plant supplies fuel to Russian troops. The oil depot was attacked by drones. As a result of the fire, the facility for the primary processing of oil products…was damaged.

Tuapse is on the Black Sea coast, northwest of the resort city of Sochi.

The attack was the fourth within a week on a Russian refinery. A Ukrainian official said the strikes will continue, “The SBU strikes deep into the Russian Federation and continues attacks on facilities which are not only important for the Russian economy, but also provide fuel for the enemy troops.”


Denmark’s Defense Ministry has unveiled a $13.2 million aid package to strengthen Ukraine’s defense capabilities against Russian cyber-attacks.

Denmark is a leading member of the Ukraine IT Coalition, launched by Estonia and Luxembourg in September 2023.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen said:

We have on several occasions delivered donations that support the cyber-defense and the critical IT infrastructure in Ukraine. It is therefore also natural that we contribute to the support of Ukraine in an area where we are already active.


Ukraine has struck a Russian oil refinery for the fourth time this week.

The latest drone strike was on a refinery in Tuapse in the Krasnodar region in southwest Russia, 500 km (312 miles) behind the frontline. A fire was set in a vacuum unit.

The head of the district, Sergey Boyko, urged local residents not to post videos “to avoid adverse consequences”.


The Ukraine Air Force says air defenses downed 11 of 14 Iran-made Shahed attack drones launched by Russian forces overnight.

In Odesa city in southern Ukraine, an apartment block was damaged and warehouses burnt down. Two men were injured, with one requiring hospitalization for multiple cuts, said Governor Oleh Kiper.

One drone struck in the Dnipropetrovsk region in south-central Ukraine, starting a fire at an “enterprise”.

The UAVs were fired from Russian-occupied Crimea and Russia’s Primorsko-Akhtarsk area.

Five S-300 air defense missiles were launched, four of them on Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv — where at least 10 people were killed and 60 injured on Tuesday by the Russian attacks — from Russia’s Belgorod region.

Kharkiv’s mayor has declared Thursday as a day of mourning for the victims of the strikes earlier this week.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called for an international investigation into Tuesday’s crash of a Russian Il-76 plane in Russia’s Belgorod region, near the Ukrainian border.

Officials of Ukraine’s General Staff initially claimed responsibility for the downing of the warplane, saying it was carrying S-300 anti-aircraft missiles used in Russia’s deadly attacks. However, the outlet Ukrayinska Pravda later removed the claim, with the Ukraine Defense Ministry saying it wass “still sorting out the information”.

Russia’s Defense Ministry declared that the transport had 65 Ukrainian POWs, three people accompanying them, and six crew. The Ministry asserted that Ukrainian aircraft firing two missiles at the Il-76.

Zelenskiy acknowledged the claim of POWs on board, but not that of Ukrainian missiles. He said he had summoned Minister of Defense Rustem Umerov; the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi; the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Serhii Shaptala. the head of military intelligence Kyrylo Budanov; State security service head Vasyl Maliuk for a report.

It is obvious that the Russians are messing with the lives of Ukrainian captives, the feelings of their relatives, and the emotions of our society.

All clear facts must be established. To the extent possible, given that the aircraft crashed on Russian territory – beyond our control.

Ukraine military spokesman Andrii Yusov confirmed that a prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine was supposed to take place on Tuesday. He said the Russian claim over the POWs is being verified.

Zelenskiy assured that he has instructed the Foreign Minister to provide partners with all information available to Kyiv.

Russia has requested a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York on Thursday afternoon.