The incident took place on the Russia-Ukraine border where Ukrainian prisoners of war were being flown to be exchanged for Russian prisoners of war.
The scene of the accident was captured on video from a short distance away. The aircraft was seen to rapidly lose control and plunge towards the ground from high altitude. IL-76 pilot lost control and crashed near a residential area. The right wing of the plane hit the ground and immediately burst into flames. There is no official information about the death of people on board. But after observing the speed of the accident and the fire that broke out nearby, there was concern of a huge death toll.
News agencies reported a statement from Moscow’s Ministry of Defense that an IL-76 military aircraft crashed in the Belgorod region during a daily flight at around 11 am Moscow time.
“There were 65 captured Ukrainian army personnel on board and they were being transferred to the Belgorod region for exchange. They were accompanied by six personnel and three escorts, making a total of 74 people on board,” the ministry said.
Russia has claimed that Ukrainian prisoners of war were on board, which Ukraine has denied. The Russian plane was not carrying prisoners of war. Instead, the S-300 carried missiles for the surface-to-air defense missile system. Local media in Ukraine reported that it was shot down by its defense forces. Russian Parliament Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin has accused Ukraine of shooting down a plane carrying prisoners of war.
“They shot down their own soldiers. Our pilots were taking them under a humanitarian plan. But they were shot down,” he said.
The accident occurred in Korochansky, northeast of the region’s capital, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said. Andrei Kartapolov, a retired general and a member of the Russian parliament, said during the parliamentary proceedings that the Russian plane was shot down by three missiles.