Moscow charges Ukraine downed Russian transport carrying 65 Ukrainian POWs

by WorldTribune Staff, January 24, 2024

Ukraine shot down a Russian military transport plane that was carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war, the Russian Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday.

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. / X

Reports cited several Russian lawmakers as saying IL-76 aircraft was shot down by three missiles of types that the West has supplied to Ukraine.

The aircraft was carrying the POWs ahead of a prisoner swap. All 65 Ukrainian POWs and nine Russians died as the plane crashed in the Russian border region of Belgorod earlier on Wednesday, Russian officials said.

Ukraine’s intelligence service confirmed a prisoner exchange had been scheduled for Wednesday but it did not take place. It also said that the “Ukrainian side was not informed about the need to ensure the safety of the airspace in the area of the city of Belgorod in a certain period of time, as was repeatedly done in the past.”

Ukraine’s armed forces said in a statement they would continue to “control the airspace to destroy the terrorist threat” of strikes crossing the border from Belgorod into Ukraine’s Kherson region.

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.

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

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said that Ukraine targets Russian military transport planes believed to be delivering missiles, especially near the border.

Andrei Kartapolov, chairman of Russia’s parliamentary defense committee, said there had been a second plane in the air transporting 80 Ukrainian prisoners, although that plane had changed course after the IL-76 crashed.

“There can now be no talk of any other [prisoner] exchanges,” Kartapolov told Russian TV.

Your Choice

Publishers and Citizen Journalists: Start your Engines