The Russian Ministry of Defense announced that a military transport plane carrying 65 captured Ukrainian soldiers had crashed in the area Belgorod In the west of the country, while a source in the Ukrainian army told Al Jazeera that all those on board the plane were Russian soldiers.
The Ministry explained – in a statement today, Wednesday – that the plane was an “L-76” model, and was carrying, in addition to the captured soldiers, 3 escorts and a crew of 6 members.
The ministry added that the Russian authorities sent an air force team to the scene of the accident to investigate its causes, while Reuters quoted the governor of the Belgorod region as confirming that all those on board the transport plane had died.
Pictures circulated on social media showed a plane crashing before a large explosion, accompanied by flames and black smoke.
Accusation of Kyiv
The Russian Foreign Ministry accused Ukraine of shooting down the plane, describing it as a “barbaric act of terrorism.”
For his part, Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin accused Kiev of shooting down the plane.
He told the Russian representatives, “They killed their soldiers in the air, and their mothers and children were waiting for them. They shot down our pilots who were carrying out a humanitarian mission with American and German missiles.”
As for Russian parliament member and retired general Andrei Kartapolov, he said that the plane crashed after being targeted by three missiles sent by the West to Ukraine.
Kartapolov did not mention the source of his information. He said that investigations will reveal whether the missiles were Patriot or IRIS-T.
In response to a question during his daily press conference, the spokesman refused Kremlin Comment, indicating that the information about the incident is “current.” “We will explain what happened,” he said.
Since the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war, Russia has witnessed several air disasters involving army aircraft.