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Russia says Ukraine shot down a transport plane and killed 65 of its own POWs

Sinéad Baker   

Russia says Ukraine shot down a transport plane and killed 65 of its own POWs
  • Russia accused Ukraine of shooting down an Il-76 transport aircraft carrying prisoners of war.
  • Ukrainian outlets said Ukraine shot down the plane, but that it had missiles aboard rather than prisoners.

Russia accused Ukraine of destroying a transport aircraft it was using to transport Ukraine's own prisoners of war on Wednesday.

The Russian Ministry of Defense said the Il-76 aircraft was taken down over the Belgorod region of Russia at around 11 a.m.

There were 65 Ukrainian captives aboard, as well as six crew members and three escorts, it said.

Ukraine did not immediately comment on the crash, saying it was investigating.

But some initial Ukrainian media reports also said Ukraine was responsible, then edited their articles to remove that detail.

At least two outlets — Ukrainian Pravda and Ukraine-RBC — posted articles saying Ukraine had shot down the planes, citing military sources.

Those articles also said the aircraft was carrying valuable S-300 missiles for Russia's air defense, and made no mention of the possibility that Ukrainian lives were lost.

Footage on Telegram appeared to show the crash in the Russian region of Belgorod, which borders Ukraine.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Belgorod, said on Telegram that everyone on board was killed when the plane fell into a field.

Russia did not immediately blame Ukraine for the crash, but several hours later said that the Il-76 had been taken out by a Ukrainian air-defense missile.

The prisoners were being flown to be exchanged for Russian captives, the Russian MOD said.

An early report on the crash by the outlet Ukrainian Pravda cited a Ukrianian defense source calling the shootdown "our work." An archived version is still available.

RBC-Ukraine reported similar details, per an archived report.

Both Pravda and RBC altered their reports later on Wednesday to remove those details.

Pravda included a public correction attributing the difference to a problem with its sourcing.

A later, public comment by Ukraine's defense ministry, given to the state outlet Suspilne, said it was working to clarify what happened.

January 24, 2024: This story has been updated to reflect Russia saying Ukraine was responsible for shooting down the plane.

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