Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told CNN about Ukraine’s response to the Ukraine International Airlines catastrophe in Iran.
“I spoke to the head of the Iranian Foreign Ministry the day after the catastrophe. At the time, he did not once mention that the plane had been shot down using a missile. Now we have evidence which will help to provide some appeasement to the families of the aviation catastrophe victims. This is the basis for the creation of our coalition – a coalition of countries whose citizens suffered in this tragedy. And we hope that we will achieve criminal accountability for all the perpetrators who were involved in this crime. And we aren’t just talking about the soldiers who pressed the button to launch the missile. President Zelensky made it clear to Iran’s leader Rouhani: we want to know who gave the order. We want to find all the links, everyone responsible for the death of Ukrainian citizens,” said the head of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.
According to Prystaiko, it was the work of the Ukrainian foreign policy department which forced Iran to cooperate in the crash investigation.
“I can see that our message and signal to the international commu ity achieved its goal. That’s what forced Iran to cooperate. Our work is now going well. The people on the ground are working around the clock. Our team, a large team of experts, is working there, and they have been joined by Canadian specialists. The crash site is now free for work. We have access to everything we need. We have identified the bodies of the deceased Ukrainians. We are ready to bring the bodies back, and we have also offered our assistance in this area to other countries,” he said.
“What remains is to get access to the information from the black boxes. We had an agreement with the Iranians that we would be able to take the black boxes. Now we are hearing talk that the investigation could take place in Iran. It doesn’t matter too much where the investigation takes place. What’s important is that no one can influence the records, and that we have in hand a high-quality expert examination when everything has been done,” he continued.
When asked by reporters whether Ukraine plans to be involved in the deciphering of the black boxes, Prystaiko responded in the affirmative, and stressed that the best case scenario would be for them to be brought back to Ukraine. “After all, it was our plane,” he remarked.
A Ukraine International Airlines plane making a regular flight from Tehran to Kyiv crashed in Iran on the morning of January 8. 176 people from seven countries were killed, including 11 Ukrainians (nine crew members and two passengers).
Three days after the catastrophe, Iran admitted that it had inadvertently shot down the plane using a cruise missile. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has taken responsibility for the incident.