Tragic Crash Claims Lives of Ukrainian POWs as Russian Plane Goes Down with No Survivors

On Wednesday, Russia leveled accusations against Ukraine, claiming that the Ukrainian forces intentionally downed a Russian military transport plane. The aircraft, an Ilyushin Il-76, was carrying 65 captured Ukrainian soldiers en route to a scheduled prisoner exchange. Tragically, all 74 individuals aboard, including six Russian crew members and three guards, reportedly lost their lives in the incident!

According to Russian state media reports, the plane was shot down near the Russian city of Belgorod, situated close to the Ukrainian border. In response to the accusations, Andrei Kartapolov, a retired general and lawmaker in Russia’s parliament, asserted in a television interview with the SHOT outlet that the act was unequivocally intentional. Kartapolov argued that the Ukrainian operators of surface-to-air missile systems were well aware of the plane’s route, destination, and type, emphasizing that distinguishing between transport planes and military aircraft should not have posed a challenge.

“The deliberate act was carried out with the clear intent to sabotage the planned prisoner exchange,” asserted Kartapolov, who maintains close ties to the defense ministry. According to him, the plane was targeted by three missiles, purportedly of either US or German origin.

If the information is verified, this incident would mark the deadliest occurrence in the nearly two-year-long conflict within Russia’s internationally recognized borders.

The Ukrainian defense ministry has not responded immediately to a Reuters request for comment. Interfax-Ukraine news agency quoted the ministry as stating that it lacked reliable information at the moment but committed to sharing it once available.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, informed Reuters, “Comments will come a little later. Time is needed to clarify all the data.”

Initially, Ukrainian media outlet Ukrainska Pravda, citing military sources, suggested that Kyiv had downed the plane due to its alleged transport of S-300 missiles. However, they later corrected the story, acknowledging that the information had not been confirmed by other sources.

A video posted on the Telegram messaging app by Baza, a channel linked to Russian security services, and verified by Reuters, depicted a large aircraft plummeting towards the ground near the village of Yablonovo in the Belgorod region, exploding into a massive fireball.

Details regarding the occupants of the plane could not be immediately verified by Reuters, but both Moscow and Kyiv have been engaging in regular prisoner exchanges since Russia initiated what it terms its “special military operation” in Ukraine in February 2022.

There Were No Survivors, Confirmed The Governor of Belgorod

Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the Belgorod region, confirmed that all individuals aboard the plane lost their lives, and the aircraft had crashed in the Korochansky district, located northeast of the city of Belgorod. He mentioned that investigators and emergency personnel were already present at the site.

The Belgorod region, sharing a border with Ukraine, has witnessed frequent attacks from Ukraine in recent months, including a December missile strike that resulted in 25 casualties.

Vyacheslav Volodin, the chairman of the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, announced plans for the chamber to craft an appeal to the US Congress and the German Bundestag. He expressed a desire for lawmakers to gain clarity on the entities they are supporting, emphasizing the alleged shooting down of their own soldiers by Ukraine. Volodin claimed that the decision led to the tragic demise of defenseless pilots on a military transport plane engaged in a humanitarian mission, using rockets of American and German origin.

The Il-76, a military transport aircraft designed for troop transport, cargo, and carrying military equipment and weapons, typically operates with a crew of five and a capacity for up to 90 passengers.

In response to a reporter’s inquiry, the Kremlin stated that it was actively investigating the situation. 

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