Russia Reports No Survivors From Plane Crash It Says Had 65 Ukrainian POWs Aboard

A Russian plane allegedly carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war crashed on Wednesday near the Russia-Ukraine border, killing everyone on board, Russian state media RIA Novosti reported, citing Russia’s Defense Ministry.

The Russian News Agency TASS reported, citing a statement from Russia’s Defense Ministry, that an Il-76 of the Russian Aerospace Forces, carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war who were being transported for exchange, along with six crew members and three escorts, crashed around 11 a.m. local time.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the region where the crash occurred, posted on Telegram that a transport plane crashed in a field near a populated area and that everyone on board had died.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused Ukraine of shooting down the plane in posts in Russian on its official Telegram account. The details could not be independently verified by TIME, which reached out to Russia’s foreign and defense ministries and Ukraine’s defense ministry.

Ukraine’s military intelligence wing posted on its Telegram channel and Facebook page in Ukrainian that it did not have reliable and comprehensive information from anyone who was on board the aircraft.

The agency said it had delivered Russian soldiers to the designated place in preparation for the prisoner exchange and it was the responsibility of Russia to ensure the safety of their prisoners. The intelligence branch said the Ukrainian side wasn’t aware of the need to ensure safety in the sky in the area and wasn’t informed about the transport methods, routes or forms of delivery.

The military arm said that the discussion should be about “intentional” actions of Russia to destabilize the situation in Ukraine and weaken the international support of our state.

Ukraine’s Coordinating Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War posted in an earlier statement on Telegram that it was collecting and analyzing information and urged caution in reports. “We emphasize that the enemy is actively conducting information special operations against Ukraine aimed at destabilizing Ukrainian society,” the agency said.

Unverified video circulating on social media from Russian news agency RT and international outlets recorded a plane plummeting into a field and exploding into a fireball.

The two warring countries have traded air attacks on city centers during the past few weeks, with Ukraine hitting St. Petersburg for the first time, and 18 people reportedly killed in Ukrainian cities on Tuesday.

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