Russian military says plane carrying 65 Ukrainian POWs crashes near Ukraine

A Russian military transport plane crashed Wednesday in a border area near Ukraine, and Moscow accused Kyiv of capturing it down, saying all 74 individuals aboard have been killed, together with 65 Ukrainian prisoners of battle headed for a swap. Russia provided no proof and Ukraine didn’t instantly verify or deny it.

Video of the crash on social media from the Belgorod border area of Russia confirmed a plane falling from the sky in a snowy, rural space, and an enormous ball of fireplace erupting the place it apparently hit the bottom.

The Associated Press couldn’t verify who was aboard or different particulars on what introduced the plane down.

Throughout the 700-day battle, Russia and Ukraine have traded conflicting accusations, and establishing the details has usually been tough, each due to the constraints of a battle zone and since both sides tightly controls data.

The Russian Defense Ministry mentioned in a press release that the Il-76 transport plane was carrying 65 POWs, a crew of six and three Russian servicemen. Russian radar registered the launch of two missiles from Ukraine’s Kharkiv area that borders Belgorod, the assertion mentioned.

“We’ve seen the reports, but we’re not in any position to confirm them,” U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby mentioned.

Separately, a U.S. official mentioned that it’s not clear that there have been really Ukrainian POWs aboard the plane that crashed. The official spoke on situation of anonymity to offer particulars that haven’t been introduced publicly.

Hours after the crash, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine made no point out of the crash in a press release. But it added that Ukraine targets Russian military transport planes believed to be delivering missiles, particularly near the border.

Russia misplaced two warplanes and two helicopters in its personal airspace in sooner or later in May 2023. Kyiv officers initially denied involvement, however later mentioned that they had used Patriot missiles to hit the plane.

The Kharkiv and Belgorod areas have lengthy been a spotlight of the preventing between the neighbors, together with airstrikes with missiles and drones.

AP correspondent Charles de Ledesma studies.

The Russian military mentioned that the POWs have been being flown to the area for a prisoner swap when the plane was downed at 11:15 a.m. native time (0815 GMT; 3:15 a.m. EST). The Il-76 is designed to hold as much as 225 troops, cargo, military tools and weapons, in accordance with Russia’s military export company.

Ukrainian military intelligence confirmed a swap was because of happen, however mentioned that it had no details about who was on the plane. Moscow didn’t ask for particular airspace to be stored protected for a sure size of time, as has occurred in previous exchanges, it mentioned in a press release.

At a information convention on the United Nations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov known as for an emergency assembly later Wednesday of the U.N. Security Council, saying he has “no concern” concerning the worldwide neighborhood believing Moscow’s allegations.

But the U.N. Security Council already has a gathering scheduled to listen to from many nations that didn’t get to talk at Tuesday’s ministerial assembly on the Israeli-Hamas battle, and France, which holds the council’s presidency, indicated that the emergency assembly will happen on Thursday at 5 p.m. EST (2200 GMT).

Russian officers and lawmakers questioned whether or not there ought to be additional prisoner swaps between Moscow and Kyiv. The most up-to-date one, brokered by the United Arab Emirates, happened this month and was the most important thus far, with 230 Ukrainian POWs returning house and 248 Russians launched. It was the primary in virtually 5 months and the 49th of the battle.

Russia has largely ensured its air dominance in the course of the battle towards Ukraine’s fleet of Soviet-era warplanes. But Russia has suffered a sequence of crashes that some observers have attributed to the next variety of flights amid the preventing in Ukraine.

At the identical time, Kyiv has boasted of capturing down two Russian command and management planes, which might be a serious feat for Ukraine if true. Cross-border assaults on Russia’s Belgorod area even have elevated, with the deadliest one killing 25 individuals in December.

Shortly earlier than the crash, Belgorod Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov mentioned on his Telegram channel {that a} “missile alert” had been triggered within the area.

Ukraine’s Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War mentioned that it was wanting into the crash, however didn’t instantly present any data. Instead, it cautioned towards sharing “unverified information.”

“We emphasize that the enemy is actively conducting information special operations against Ukraine aimed at destabilizing Ukrainian society,” it mentioned in a press release on Telegram.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, instructed reporters within the morning that he couldn’t touch upon the crash, as a result of he didn’t have sufficient details about it. There was no remark from the Kremlin later within the day.

The 1,500-kilometer (930-mile) entrance line within the battle has been largely static amid a second winter of preventing. As either side search to replenish their weapons stockpiles, the battle not too long ago has centered on long-range strikes.

Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy mentioned {that a} main Russian missile assault on Tuesday had killed 18 individuals and injured 130 others.

The barrage, using greater than 40 ballistic, cruise, anti-aircraft and guided missiles, hit 130 residential buildings in three Ukrainian cities, “all ordinary houses,” Zelenskyy mentioned on X, previously often called Twitter.

Russia’s onslaught, which included targets in Kyiv and the second-largest metropolis of Kharkiv, was the heaviest in weeks and lent weight to Zelenskyy’s appeals for Western allies to offer extra military help.

“This year, the main priority is to strengthen air defense to protect our cities and towns, as well as defend front-line positions,” Zelenskyy tweeted Tuesday.

Analysts say Russia has stockpiled missiles to pursue a winter of aerial bombardment, whereas Ukraine has sought to strike inside Russia with new varieties of drones.

Russia might have employed decoy missiles in Tuesday’s assault in an effort to open up holes in Ukraine’s air defenses, a U.S. assume tank mentioned.

The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War mentioned that Moscow is probably going making an attempt to accumulate extra ballistic missiles from international nations, together with Iran and North Korea, as a result of they could be simpler in some circumstances.

An extra barrage of Russian S-300 missiles struck residential districts of Kharkiv late Tuesday, wounding 9 individuals and damaging residential buildings, regional Gov. Oleh Syniehubov mentioned.

Russia denies its forces strike civilian areas, though there’s substantial proof on the contrary.

Also on Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry mentioned that its air defenses shot down 4 Ukrainian drones within the Oryol area of western Russia. Oryol Mayor Yuri Parakhin mentioned that a number of drones have been downed over the town with no casualties.

Another Ukrainian drone was downed early Wednesday over the Belgorod border area, in accordance with Gladkov. He mentioned that there have been no casualties or harm.

Two Ukrainian drones have been downed over the Bryansk area within the night, Gov. Alexander Bogomaz mentioned.

Ukraine’s allies have promised extra military help despite the fact that their assets are stretched. Help from the United States, by far Ukraine’s single greatest supplier, has additionally hit political snags.

The German Defense Ministry mentioned Wednesday that it plans to ship six Sea King Mk41 helicopters to Ukraine.


Associated Press Pentagon correspondent Tara Copp in Washington, and Edith M. Lederer on the United Nations, contributed to this report.


A earlier model of this story was up to date to appropriate that Zelenskyy spoke concerning the missile strike demise toll late Tuesday, not Wednesday.


Follow AP’s protection of the battle in Ukraine at

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