Transport Plane Reportedly Carrying 65 Ukrainian Prisoners of War Crashes in Belgorod, Says Russia

il-76 crash 2
Wikimedia Commons / Ukrinform

Russia says there are no survivors of the 65 POWs, six crew, and three others said to be onboard the Russian transport aircraft which crashed near the Ukrainian border this morning.

Russia has blamed Ukraine for shooting down a transport jet, reportedly a Cold-War era Ilyushin Il-76, which crashed in the Belgorod Oblast — which borders north-east Ukraine — on Wednesday morning.

The extent of fatalities from the loss and whether it was taken down by anti-air fire or crashed itself is not known, with Ukraine and Russia releasing conflicting reports.

Moscow states the aircraft was downed by Ukraine and that it had 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war aboard, as well as six crew and three “escorts” and that all those aboard were killed. Kyiv, on the other hand, has not claimed a shoot-down but states the true cargo of the aircraft was a load of S-300 surface-to-air missiles which it says Russia was going to use to attack Ukraine.

Ukraine’s state press agency has highlighted unverified footage from Russian social media showing an aircraft going down and exploding into a ball of flame as it hit the ground. Russia says they have dispatched air crash investigators to the site.

State news agency TASS reports the Russian Parliament will issue a complaint to the United States and Germany over the crash, blaming Western-dontaed air defence misiles launched by Ukraine for the crash. State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin reportedly told the chamber: “There is a proposal to figure out what missiles and launchers were used, let’s prepare an appeal to the US Congress and the German Bundestag… They must realize their responsibility… They shot their own soldiers in the air.”

Volodin claimed the Russian crew aboard the transport jet had been flying a “humanitarian mission” and had been killed by “the Nazi regime”. , a label applied to Ukraine by the Russian state.

The crash came after a day of major aerial strikes against Ukraine by Russia, with dozens of missiles attacking major cities including Kyiv and Kharkov. 18 people were killed and hundereds of buildings damaged, Ukraine said.

This story is developing


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