Russian Plane Crashes With 65 Ukrainian POWs Aboard

They were being moved to the border region for a prisoner exchange, Russia said
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 24, 2024 5:36 AM CST
Updated Jan 24, 2024 7:21 AM CST
Russian Plane Carrying 65 Ukrainian POWs Crashes
Flames rise from the scene of a plane crash at a residential area near Yablonovo, Belgorod region, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. Russia says a military transport plane that was carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war has crashed in a Russian region near Ukraine.   (Validated UGC video via AP)

A military transport plane that Russia said was carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war crashed Wednesday morning in a Russian region near Ukraine, and a local governor wrote on Telegram there were no survivors. The AP reports a total of 74 people were said to be aboard. Russia's foreign ministry accused Ukrainian air defense systems of downing the plane in a "terrorist act," claiming its radar registered the launch of two Ukrainian missiles from Ukraine's Kharkiv region bordering Belgorod. The BBC reports the available presumed footage of the crash neither proves nor disproves that theory. It writes, "We can see the aircraft descending towards the ground. At some point, a large fragment detaches from it, and presumably afterwards, flames erupt around the left wing."

The AP could not confirm who was aboard the plane, and the Ukrainians did not immediately comment. A special military commission was on the way to the crash site, the Russian Defense Ministry said. Per the Russian Defense Ministry, the plane was en route to the Belgorod region from the Chkalovsky air field in the Moscow region surrounding the Russian capital, and the POW swap was scheduled to take place later Wednesday at the Kolotilovka crossing on the Russian-Ukrainian border.

Russia has largely ensured its air dominance during the war, which marked its 700th day on Wednesday, against Ukraine's fleet of Soviet-era warplanes. But the Russian air force has suffered a string of crashes that some observers have attributed to a higher number of flights amid the fighting in Ukraine. At the same time, Kyiv has boasted recently about shooting down two Russian command and control planes, which would be a major feat for Ukraine if true. Cross-border attacks on Russia's Belgorod region also have been ramped up lately, with the deadliest one killing 21 people in late December.

(More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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