A Ukrainian aeroplane that arrived in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul to evacuate Ukrainians was hijacked by unidentified people who flew it into Iran last Sunday, media reports quoted Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Yenin as saying.
“Last Sunday, our plane was hijacked by other people. On 24 August, 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 him, the hijackers were armed. However, the minister did not report anything about what happened to the plane or whether Kiev would seek to get it back or how the Ukrainian citizens got back from Kabul, onboard of this “practically stolen” plane or another one sent by Kiev.
Yenin only underlined that the whole diplomatic service headed by Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba “had been working in the crash test mode” the whole week.
On 22 August, a military transport plane with 83 people onboard, including 31 Ukrainians, arrived from Afghanistan to Kiev. The presidential office reported that 12 Ukrainian military personnel returned home, while foreign reporters and public figures who requested help were evacuated. The office said that around 100 Ukrainians are still expecting evacuating in Afghanistan.
Iran, meanwhile, has denied the claim that the country was behind the alleged hijack. “Apparently it happened yesterday at 22:00 local/1730Z, the aircraft landed in Mashhad for “Refueling” and immediately embarked for Kyiv afterward… We deny the Ukrainian claims,” Iranian Civil Aviation Organization Spokesperson Mohammad Hassan Zibakhsh said.
After the US announced the end of 20-year-long military operation in Afghanistan and started to pull out soldiers, the Taliban went on an offensive against Afghanistan government forces. Taliban on 15 August swept into Kabul, forcing the US and other countries to evacuate their embassy staff and people from the war-torn nation.