An Il-76 military transport plane crashed in the Belgorod region on Wednesday morning (24) with 65 Ukrainian soldiers captured, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported.

The governor of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said all 74 people on board were killed, including six crew members and three companions. “[O avião] crashed in a field near a populated area. Everyone on board died”, says the governor’s publication on his Telegram channel.

Moscow accused the Ukrainian Armed Forces of shooting down the plane, claiming that the aircraft was shot down with the help of an air defense system from the Kharkov region. Russian Aerospace Forces radar equipment reportedly detected the launch of two Ukrainian missiles.

According to the Russian ministry, the Ukrainian Armed Forces attacked the plane “with the aim of accusing Russia of destroying the Ukrainian military.”

Ukrainian authorities say there is still no exact information about the cause of the crash, saying they are “clarifying the details” of the incident. The advisor to the head of the Ukrainian President’s Cabinet, Mikhail Podolyak, told the Meduza portal that “the cabinet’s comments will come later, after all the data has been clarified.”

According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, Ukrainian prisoners of war were being transported to the Russian region of Belgorod, which borders Ukraine, for an exchange of prisoners between Moscow and Kiev.

“The Ukrainian leadership knew that, according to established practice, the transportation of military personnel would be carried out on military transport aircraft. According to the previously reached agreement, this event would take place in the afternoon at the Kolotilovka checkpoint on the border between Russia and Ukraine”, says the ministry’s statement.

Editing: Lucas Estanislau


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