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Russian officials claim Kyiv shot down military transport plane, resulting in 74 deaths, including prisoners of war

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MOSCOW ⁢— A Russian military transport plane ​crashed Wednesday in a border region near Ukraine, and Moscow accused ⁤Kyiv of shooting it down, saying ‍all 74 people aboard were killed, including 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war headed for a ⁢swap. ⁣Russia offered ⁢no evidence, and Ukraine did not immediately ‍confirm⁤ or deny it.

Video of the crash ⁤on social media from the Belgorod border region of ‌Russia showed a plane falling from ​the sky in a snowy, rural ​area, and a massive ball of fire erupting where ‌it apparently hit the ground.

The Associated Press could not ⁢confirm who was aboard or⁤ other details on what brought the plane down. Throughout the 700-day war, Russia and Ukraine have traded conflicting accusations, and⁣ establishing the facts has often been difficult, both because ​of the constraints of ‌a war zone and‍ because each side ⁣tightly controls⁣ information.

In a statement, the Russian Defense Ministry said the Il-76 transport‍ plane was carrying 65 ‌POWs, a crew of⁢ six and ⁤three Russian servicemen. It said ⁤Russian radar registered the launch of two missiles from Ukraine’s Kharkiv region ⁣that borders Belgorod.

A U.S. official ⁢said it’s not clear that there were‌ actually Ukrainian POWs ⁢aboard ‍the aircraft that crashed. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to provide details that have not been announced publicly.

Hours after the crash, the ⁤General Staff ‌of the Armed Forces of Ukraine made ​no mention of‌ the crash in a statement. But it ​added ‍that Ukraine targets ⁤Russian military⁣ transport planes believed to be delivering missiles, especially near the border.

Russia lost two warplanes and two ⁢helicopters in its own airspace in one day in May 2023. Kyiv officials initially denied involvement but later said they had used‌ Patriot missiles to ⁤hit the aircraft.

The Kharkiv and Belgorod⁣ regions have long been ‍a focus of⁢ the fighting between the neighbors, including ‌airstrikes with missiles⁢ and drones.

First responders rushed to ⁤the crash site in the‍ Korochansky ⁤district of Belgorod, state news agency Tass ‍reported,⁤ citing an emergency services official. The Defense Ministry⁣ in Moscow said a military commission was‌ headed to the scene.

The Russian military said the POWs were being flown to the region for a prisoner swap when the plane‌ was⁣ downed at 11:15 a.m. local time. ⁤The Il-76 is designed to ⁣carry ⁣up‌ to 225 troops, cargo, ⁢military equipment and weapons, according‍ to Russia’s military⁤ export agency.

The Ukrainian military intelligence spokesman, Andrii Yusov, confirmed to media‌ that a prisoner swap was to happen‍ Wednesday but was not going‍ ahead. He said‌ the agency is checking whether ​Ukrainian POWs ‍were on the plane.

The Russian Defense ‍Ministry ⁣said​ the plane was headed to⁣ the Belgorod region from the Chkalovsky airfield in the Moscow region, and‌ the POW swap was scheduled to ⁤take place⁤ at the Kolotilovka crossing on the Russian-Ukrainian border. The crossing is about 85⁢ miles west​ of the village of Yablonovo, near where the plane crashed.

Russian officials and ‌lawmakers expressed outrage and questioned whether there should be further prisoner swaps. The⁣ most ​recent one, brokered by the⁢ United Arab Emirates, took place this month and was the biggest to date,‌ with 230 Ukrainian POWs returning ‍home and 248 Russians released. It was the first in almost⁣ five months⁣ and the 49th of the war.

Russia has largely ensured its air dominance during the war against Ukraine’s fleet of Soviet-era ‌warplanes. But Russia has suffered a ⁤series of crashes that some observers have attributed to a higher number of flights amid the ⁤fighting in Ukraine.

At the same time, Kyiv⁤ has boasted of shooting down two Russian command and ‍control ‍planes, which would be a major feat for Ukraine if‍ true. Cross-border attacks on⁤ Russia’s Belgorod region also have increased, ⁤with the​ deadliest one killing 25 people in December.

Shortly⁣ before the⁤ crash, Belgorod Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said on his Telegram channel a “missile alert” had​ been triggered in the region.

Ukraine’s Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment ⁢of ⁣Prisoners of War said it was looking into the crash but⁢ did not immediately provide any information. Instead, it cautioned against sharing “unverified information.”

“We​ emphasize that the enemy is actively ​conducting information special operations against⁢ Ukraine aimed ⁣at‍ destabilizing Ukrainian society,”​ it‍ said in‌ a statement on Telegram.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told ⁢reporters in the morning that he could not comment⁤ on ⁢the crash because‍ he⁤ didn’t have enough information about it. There was no comment from the​ Kremlin later in the day.

The war’s 930-mile front line has⁣ been largely static amid a second winter of fighting. As both sides seek to replenish their⁤ weapons stockpiles, the war recently has focused on long-range strikes.

Ukraine’s allies have promised more​ military aid⁤ even though their resources are stretched. Help from the United ⁢States, by far Ukraine’s single biggest provider, has also hit political snags.

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Breaking News:‌ Russian military transport plane crashes near Ukraine border

Tragic news has ‍emerged from the Belgorod border region of Russia, where a Russian military transport plane crashed, killing all 74 people aboard. ⁢Moscow has ⁤accused‌ Kyiv of shooting down the plane, claiming that 65 of the victims were Ukrainian prisoners of war who were headed for a swap. However, Ukraine⁣ has not ​confirmed or denied these allegations.

The crash, which was captured on video and shared on ‍social media, showed the plane falling from the sky and erupting into a massive ball‍ of fire upon impact with‍ the ground. The cause ​of the crash is⁤ still unknown, and conflicting accusations between Russia ‍and Ukraine have made it difficult‍ to establish the facts.

While the Russian Defense Ministry claims that the plane was ⁢carrying‌ Ukrainian POWs and⁢ was shot down by missiles launched from Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, ⁢a U.S. official has cast doubt on these claims, stating that it’s unclear whether there were actually Ukrainian prisoners aboard the aircraft.

The crash has raised tensions between the two ⁣neighboring countries, which have been engaged in a 700-day war. Both‍ sides​ have ⁣experienced losses in their airspace, with​ Russia losing two warplanes‌ and two helicopters ‍in a single day in⁢ May 2023,‌ and Ukraine​ boasting of shooting down Russian command and control planes.

As the situation unfolds, first ‍responders have rushed to the crash site,⁢ and investigations are underway to determine the ⁤cause of the tragedy. The war’s 930-mile front line ​has remained largely‌ static, with‍ both sides seeking to replenish their weapons stockpiles as the conflict continues.

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Truth Media Network
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2 COMMENTS

  1. I disagree, as it is essential to gather more evidence and conduct a thorough investigation before assigning blame for such a tragic event.

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