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Russian military plane crash leaves 74 including 65 Ukrainian POWs dead

01:51 AM Jan 25, 2024 IST | SURINDER SINGH OBEROI
russian military plane crash leaves 74 including 65 ukrainian pows dead
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New Delhi, Jan 24: A Russian military plane crash in the Belgorod region near the Ukraine border has claimed the lives of all 74 individuals onboard, confirmed by local governor Vyacheslav Gladkov.

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The Russian Defence Ministry reported that the Ilyushin Il-76 military aircraft was en route with 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war for a planned exchange, accompanied by six crew members and three other personnel.

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The incident, which is yet to be addressed by Ukrainian authorities, was initially surrounded by controversy. Early reports by Ukrainskaya Pravda suggested Ukrainian forces were responsible for downing the plane, a claim that was subsequently withdrawn.

Social media footage showed the plane crashing in an explosion, scattering debris over a snow-laden field. The Ilyushin Il-76, a Soviet-era transport aircraft, is commonly used for transporting troops and military equipment.

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Russian officials have sparked further debate with their statements. Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin accused Kyiv of shooting down the plane with Western missiles, suggesting a deliberate attack on Ukrainian soldiers and Russian pilots involved in a humanitarian mission.

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Additionally, retired General Andrei Kartapolov, now a senior lawmaker, alleged the plane was hit by three missiles, possibly Western-supplied Patriots or Iris-Ts.

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Kartapolov also mentioned that Russia and Ukraine had plans for a mutual exchange of 192 prisoners each before the crash. This follows the largest prisoner swap since the onset of the war, overseen by the United Arab Emirates, which saw the exchange of over 200 soldiers from each side.

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The Belgorod region, critical to Russian supply lines, has faced extensive military aggression, including a December missile strike on its capital that resulted in 25 deaths.

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