Ukraine Shot Down Russian Il-76 Aircraft Carrying 65 Ukrainian Prisoners of War

Ukraine Shot Down Russian Il-76 Aircraft Carrying 65 Ukrainian Prisoners of War

In a shocking turn of events, a Russian IL-76 military transport plane carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) crashed in the Belgorod region, near the Ukrainian border, leading to conflicting narratives and accusations between Russia and Ukraine.

According to Russian authorities, the plane was on a routine flight to facilitate a prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine. The exchange was set to take place at the Kolotilovka border checkpoint on Wednesday afternoon. However, the tragedy unfolded when the IL-76 crashed in the Korochansky district, resulting in the loss of all 74 individuals on board, including six Russian crew members and three soldiers.

The situation escalated as Russia accused Ukraine of deliberately shooting down the military transport plane, labeling it a “barbaric act of terrorism.” The Russian defense ministry claimed that Ukrainian missiles were detected by radar operators at the time of the crash, asserting that the Ukrainian leadership disregarded the lives of its own citizens.

In contrast, Ukraine did not directly confirm responsibility for the downing of the plane. The Ukrainian military, in a statement on Telegram, emphasized its commitment to destroying Russian military transport aircraft that it believed were carrying missiles aimed at Ukraine. The Armed Forces of Ukraine accused Russia of planning and deliberately destabilizing the situation to weaken international support for the country.

Russian parliament speaker Vyacheslav Volodin accused Kyiv of shooting down the plane, contending that Ukrainian forces targeted their own soldiers involved in a humanitarian mission. On the other hand, Ukraine’s GUR military intelligence agency stated that it had not been asked to ensure airspace security around Belgorod, raising questions about the circumstances leading to the crash.

Amid the unfolding crisis, Russia’s foreign ministry termed the incident a “barbaric act,” and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for an emergency U.N. Security Council session. The conflicting narratives and lack of clarity surrounding the crash have added complexity to an already tense international situation.

While both countries had acknowledged plans for a prisoner exchange on the same day, details remained murky. Ukraine’s intelligence agency confirmed the planned exchange and the safe arrival of captured Russian servicemen at the agreed-upon location. However, the lack of reliable information about the individuals on the downed plane has further fueled speculation.

An investigation team and emergency services are currently working at the crash site to determine the cause of the incident. The tragic event, if confirmed to be a deliberate act, would mark the deadliest incident within Russia’s internationally recognized borders during the ongoing conflict.

As the world awaits more information and clarity, the tragedy has intensified diplomatic tensions between Russia and Ukraine, adding another layer of complexity to the already fraught relationship between the two nations.

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