The Antonov 12, owned by a Ukrainian company Meridian LTD, was carrying about 11 tonnes of armaments, including illuminating mortar mines, bound for Bangladesh, the minister said.

“As for the identity of the crew, I think they are also Ukrainians, but we have no information on this subject, they are not Serbs,” Stefanovic told a press conference. .

The plane took off from Nis airport (southern Serbia) on Saturday around 8:40 p.m. (6:40 p.m. GMT).

The exporter of these armaments is the private Serbian company Valir.

The minister insisted it was a deal agreed with Bangladesh’s defense ministry “in accordance with international rules”.

“Unfortunately some media have speculated that this flight was allegedly transporting armaments to Ukraine which is completely untrue,” he said.

Since 2016, when every arms order is listed in electronic form, Serbia has not issued any authorization for any arms export to Ukraine or Russia, Stefanovic said. .

According to the minister, the majority of the cargo planes that transport armaments are of Soviet production and in the possession of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

With Russia and Belarus under international sanctions due to the conflict in Ukraine, only Ukrainian transport planes are active and “engaged around the world”.

“Apart from the fact that they are the property of Ukrainian companies, no other link exists between these goods and Ukraine,” the minister said.

The Antonov crashed on Saturday evening near the town of Paleochori Kavalas. Witnesses saw the plane on fire and heard explosions, Athens News reported.

According to press reports, the plane had just requested an emergency landing permit at the Greek airport of Kavala, but failed to complete the maneuver in time.