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More than 70 dead in a military plane crash in Russia

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A military plane has crashed in Russia killing all 74 people on board, including dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war.
Plane crash in Russia carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war.

A military plane believed to be carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war has crashed in the southwest of Russia.

Eyewitnesses in Russia’s Belgorod region on the Ukraine border filmed the crash. Authorities say all 74 people on board were killed.

Russia accused Ukraine of shooting down the aircraft.

Several claims made by both Russian and Ukrainian officials have not been independently verified.

What happened?

The Governor of Russia’s Belgorod region confirmed there was a plane crash in the region. Videos appear to show a plane crashing near a rural town and bursting into flames.

Russia’s Ministry of Defence said the plane was an Ilyushin Il-76, a large military transport plane that usually carries people, weapons, and/or cargo.

It said everyone on board was killed — 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war, six crew members, and three Russian soldiers accompanying the passengers. The reports haven’t been confirmed by independent sources.

Prisoner exchange

Russia and Ukraine have each confirmed that both sides had agreed to a prisoner exchange.

A group of Ukrainian soldiers were to be released from Russian detention under the deal. Authorities accused Ukraine of shooting down the plane carrying those soldiers.

Ukrainian forces have previously targeted the region, which borders Ukraine’s north. Earlier this month, Russia evacuated roughly 300 residents from Belgorod due to persistent Ukrainian missile strikes.

Ukraine’s response

Ukraine has not explicitly refuted Russia’s claim that it shot the plane down.

However, its military intelligence said it didn’t have reliable information about who was onboard.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for further investigation.

U.S. response

White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby said it was difficult to confirm reports from the scene since the crash occurred in Russian territory.

“The Ukrainians are claiming one thing. The Russians are claiming another. And we just don’t know enough to comment on it,” he said.

War in Ukraine

It’s been almost two years since Russia invaded Ukraine, sparking a full-scale war.

Analysis from the UK Foreign Affairs Ministry shows the war has largely stalled in recent months, as both Russian and Ukrainian militaries have failed to make significant breakthroughs.

Ukrainian forces say weapons and supplies are dwindling, and President Zelenskyy has been pushing western allies to ramp up deliveries of military equipment.

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