“Russian Military Plane Crash Raises Tensions: Conflicting Reports on Contents and Cause”

“Russian Military Plane Crash Raises Tensions: Conflicting Reports on Contents and Cause”

A Russian military plane with 74 people on board crashed in the Belgorod region of Russia, near the Ukrainian border, resulting in fatalities, according to Russian state media. The region’s governor confirmed that everyone on board was killed.

A screengrab taken from video posted to social media shows flames rising from the scene of a plane crash near Yablonovo, in Russia's Belgorod region, on Wednesday, January 24.

Conflicting reports emerged regarding the contents of the plane, with Russian state media claiming it carried 65 Ukrainian servicemen for a prisoner swap, while Ukraine stated that it transported air defense missiles.

The cause of the crash remains unclear, and allegations have surfaced that Ukraine shot down the plane. Russia’s Defense Ministry accused Ukraine of downing the aircraft using an anti-aircraft missile system. Kyiv has not responded to Moscow’s claims.

Belgorod, which has faced attacks from Ukraine, witnessed a deadly incident at the end of December, with strikes killing at least 25 Russian civilians. The recent crash adds to the escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

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Russia’s Defense Ministry insisted that the flight carried Ukrainian military personnel for exchange and accused Kyiv of committing a terrorist act. The ministry claimed the plane was destroyed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces using an anti-aircraft missile system.

 

Ukraine countered by stating that the IL-76 plane was transporting missiles for the S-300 air defense system. The conflicting narratives have yet to be independently verified. CNN has reached out to Ukraine for comment on the allegations.

The IL-76, a Soviet-era long-range freighter plane, crashed near the village of Yablonovo in the Korocha District of Belgorod Region. The area is close to the Ukrainian border. Investigative teams and emergency services are on the scene, but details are awaited.

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The Ukrainian government agency responsible for prisoners of war is investigating claims that the crashed plane was carrying Ukrainian servicemen ahead of a planned prisoner exchange. While Ukraine confirmed a scheduled exchange, it noted that it was not happening at the moment.

 

Belgorod, drawn into Russia’s war on Ukraine, has experienced cross-border strikes from Kyiv, aiming to undermine domestic support for Moscow’s invasion. Evacuations were carried out earlier this month after retaliatory strikes from Ukraine.

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