A big Russian army transport aircraft crashed Wednesday close to the border with Ukraine killing all on board, the Russian Protection Ministry stated, accusing Ukraine of taking pictures down the aircraft with missiles.

The ministry stated in an announcement that the aircraft was carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of warfare who have been transferred to the Belgorod area. to be exchanged for Russian service personnel. He accused Ukrainian forces of launching two missiles from the close by Kharkiv area of Ukraine that hit the aircraft. The aircraft was additionally carrying six crew members and three different people, the ministry stated.

The Russian claims couldn’t be independently verified.

Officers in Kiev haven’t immediately commented on Moscow's accusations that Ukraine shot down the aircraft, or its claims that Ukrainian prisoners of warfare died within the crash. The headquarters of the military's normal workers issued an announcement on Wednesday afternoon asserting the fitting to focus on Russian army transport plane within the border area.

However afterward Wednesday, Ukraine's army intelligence company hinted at what might have been a tragic mistake, saying that Russia had not been knowledgeable that the prisoners could be taken to Belgorod airport, because it was the case within the earlier exchanges. The airport is inside vary of Ukrainian drones and missiles.

Ukraine acknowledged, nonetheless, {that a} prisoner change was deliberate for the day, elevating questions on whether or not it ought to assume the prisoners could be transported to the area.

If Ukraine shot down a aircraft with its troopers on board, even unintentionally, it might be a painful setback at a troublesome time for its warfare effort, which is severely challenged by shortages of ammunition and personnel and fears that the assist western erosion.

The assertion of the final workers didn’t deny the downing of the transport aircraft. As a substitute, he emphasised how important it was for Ukraine to assault in Russian territory. It stated repeated Russian missile assaults on the town of Kharkiv and the encircling area had killed 16 individuals and wounded 78 others previously week, and that Ukraine had responded by focusing on missile launch websites and the logistics for missile shipments.

“The armed forces of Ukraine proceed to take measures to destroy supply automobiles and management the airspace to get rid of the terrorist menace,” the assertion stated.

The Belgorod area of Russia has a protracted border with Ukraine, and hostilities have been shared within the space for many of the warfare. In latest weeks, it has been the scene of frequent Ukrainian missile and drone assaults, together with a bombing in December. It was additionally the staging floor for the large-scale invasion of Moscow in 2022 and different Russian assaults towards Ukrainian territory in the course of the warfare.

The governor of the Belgorod area, Vyacheslav Gladkov, stated in an announcement on social media that the aircraft, which was taking off from a army airport close to Moscow, crashed right into a area close to a settlement within the district by Korochansky. He stated that emergency companies have been on web site and have been investigating.

A video posted on Telegram and verified by the Instances confirmed a big aircraft crashing and exploding in Yablonovo, a city in Korochansky district. Tass, a Russian state information company, launched a video of the crash scene displaying particles in a snowy area.

The Russian Ministry of Protection stated in its assertion that the management of Ukraine was “properly conscious that, in accordance with the established follow, the Ukrainian servicemen have been to be transported by a army transport plane to the air power of Belgorod at the moment for the change.”

“In response to an earlier settlement, the occasion was imagined to happen within the afternoon” at a checkpoint on the Russia-Ukraine border, the assertion added.

Ukraine's army intelligence company stated an change “was imagined to occur at the moment, but it surely didn't occur.” Ukraine, he stated, had confirmed its a part of the deal by transporting Russian prisoners safely to the border.

The company stated it had no details about the passengers on the aircraft, however that “the protection of our defenders, in keeping with the agreements, was to be ensured by the Russian facet.” That Russia had not knowledgeable Ukraine that the prisoners have been on board the aircraft, the assertion stated, could possibly be “deliberate and deliberate actions by the Russian Federation to destabilize the scenario in Ukraine and weaken worldwide assist” .

The aircraft, an Il-76, was designed a long time in the past within the Soviet Union to carry out army duties equivalent to airlift troops, cargo and weapons.

Former Ukrainian prisoners who have been freed in exchanges stated they have been transported on that mannequin aircraft, stated Olha Reshetylova, coordinator of the Media Initiative for Human Rights, a gaggle that investigates potential Russian warfare crimes towards the prisoners of warfare. In an interview, he referred to as for an investigation into the crash, however stated these efforts could be “sophisticated by the truth that the crime was dedicated on the territory” of Russia.

A former Ukrainian prisoner of warfare, Maksym Kolesnikov, confirmed in a social media post that the prisoners have been transported in army cargo planes, however questioned the Russian declare that solely three guards escorted 65 prisoners. On his flight, he stated, about 20 guards fly with 50 prisoners.

Andrei V. Kartapolov, a Russian lawmaker and retired normal, instructed a session of the State Duma, the decrease home of Parliament, that the Il-76 had been shot down by three Ukrainian missiles. He didn’t present any proof for his declare, and it couldn’t be independently verified. On Wednesday afternoon, Russian International Minister Sergey V. Lavrov stated Russia had requested a gathering of the UN Safety Council over the episode.

Russia and Ukraine have been exchanging prisoners because the begin of the warfare by offers negotiated by a 3rd celebration, equivalent to Turkey or the United Arab Emirates. These offers have been very sophisticated, with the perimeters meticulously negotiating each element.

Originally of January, after a protracted break within the exchanges, Russia and Ukraine have carried out the most important change of prisoners because the starting of the warfare.

Prisoner exchanges are politically delicate in Ukraine and President Volodymyr Zelensky's authorities has stated it’s working laborious to barter releases. Households, a few of whom have been ready for months with little details about their family members in captivity, held road demonstrations within the capital, Kiev. The Ukrainian authorities haven’t disclosed, even to the households, the names of those that will probably be launched earlier than exchanges.

Wednesday's incident comes as combating on the entrance line in southeastern Ukraine has slowed down in a vicious however largely stationary battle within the trenches.

Navy help for Ukraine has been thrown into doubt because the US Congress delays a vote on the help. Entrance-line commanders have stated that artillery ammunition is in brief provide, and the nation is making ready for a mobilization that’s more likely to be unpopular within the nation.

With prospects for floor advances unsure, Ukraine has turned to long-range drone strikes and sabotage operations in Russia focusing on army and gas infrastructure. The ways included sabotage and commando raids close to the border, together with within the Belgorod area.

Maria Varenikova contributed to this report.


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