Early on August 24, 2021, Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister Yevhen Yenin reported that the Ukrainian aircraft participating in the evacuation effort in Kabul, Afghanistan, had been involved in two incidents.
“Last Sunday, our plane was hijacked by third-party individuals who were armed, including with firearms,” Yenin told Hromadske Radio. “On Tuesday, the plane was almost stolen from us as it flew into Iran with an unidentified group of passengers onboard instead of evacuating Ukrainians.”
But the incidents were later denied by Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko, who told the Ukrainian branch of the news agency Interfax that Yenin was attempting to explain “the unprecedented level of difficulties that diplomats had to face in order to pull the Ukrainians out.”
“There are no hijacked Ukrainian planes in Kabul or anywhere else,” Nikolenko stressed.
Later on, the Iranian Civil Aviation Authority also denied that a hijack took place. The aircraft involved in evacuating Ukrainian nationals out of Kabul refueled in Mashhad International Airport (MHD), Iran, before reaching Kyiv in Ukraine.
Ukrainian authorities began using an Ilyushin Il-76MD transport aircraft of the Ukrainian Air Force’s 25th Transport Aviation Brigade on August 18, 2021, to evacuate people out of Afghanistan.
Three evacuation flights have taken place so far, evacuating a total of 256 people.
Relations between Iran and Ukraine have soured since the downing of the Ukraine International Flight PS752 in Tehran by an air defense system of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on January 8, 2020.
Ukraine is celebrating 30 years of independence on August 24, 2021.