A Russian plane carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war crashed then exploded killing all on board close to the city of Belgorod.
A video shows the plane exploding into a fireball and crashes to the ground and initial reports has suggested that the Russian II-76 aircraft could have been shot down.
The Russian government has said that in total there was 74 people onboard with 65 Ukrainian prisoners.
The regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote on Telegram, “A transport plane crashed in the Korochansky district. It fell in a field near the village. All those on board were killed.”
BREAKING: Russian military plane crashes near Belgorod, reports of many dead pic.twitter.com/Gb6NChFr6Y
— BNO News (@BNONews) January 24, 2024
Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov was asked by a reporter if the Russian president had been informed over the crash.
“This is quite new, fresh information,” he said.
“We’re going to sort it out now. I can’t tell anything yet.”
Retired general Andrei Kartapolov said that the plane was shot down by western missiles supplied to Ukraine.
“Today, the Ukrainian fascist criminal regime committed a bloody crime that defies any military logic,” he said in a statement.
He added, “The Ukrainian leadership was well aware of the impending exchange and was informed of how the prisoners will be delivered, but the Il-76 plane was shot down by three missiles of an anti-aircraft complex, either Patriot or German made Iris-T.”
The Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement, the plane was carrying 65 “captured Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel,” which was on a scheduled flight.
“They were being transported to the Belgorod region for exchange,” it added.