- A Russian military plane with 74 people on board has crashed in the Belgorod region of Russia, near the Ukrainian border, Russian state media reported. The region’s governor said all those on board were killed.
- The cause of the crash is not yet clear and there are conflicting accounts about who or what was on board. Russian state media reported that 65 Ukrainian servicemen were on the plane, being flown to Belgorod ahead of a prisoner swap.
- But Ukraine’s military said the plane was carrying air defense missiles. CNN has not verified either side’s claims, and has asked Ukraine for comment on allegations it shot down the plane.
- Belgorod has come under frequent attacks from Ukraine in recent weeks. At the end of December last year strikes killed at least 25 people, in one of the deadliest single incidents for Russian civilians of the war.
Russian Defense Ministry blames Ukraine for downing plane in Belgorod region
Russia’s defense ministry has blamed Ukraine for downing an Ilyushin-76 transport plane in the Belgorod region on Wednesday, saying Kyiv used an anti-aircraft missile system to down the plane.
Kyiv has so far made no comment on Moscow’s claims, which Russian officials have been reporting since shortly after news of the crash broke.
The latest statement from Russia’s Defense Ministry says, “Today, at 11:15 a.m., the Kyiv regime committed a terrorist act as a result of which a Russian military transport aircraft was shot down, flying along the route Chkalovsky-Belgorod airfield to transport Ukrainian military personnel for exchange.”
“The plane was destroyed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces from the area of Liptsy, Kharkiv region, using an anti-aircraft missile system,” the ministry said. “The radar equipment of the Russian Aerospace Forces observed the launch of two Ukrainian missiles.”
CNN is not able to independently verify Russia’s claims.