Russian jet crashes carrying Ukrainian PoWs – Moscow, many feared death

A Russian Ilyushin-76 military transport plane has crashed in the southern Belgorod region bordering Ukraine.

According to Russia’s Ministry of Defence, at least 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war were reportedly killed in a plane crash. Ria Novosti news agency mentioned that nine people were on board, including six crew members, but independent verification of these details is not available. Ukraine’s general staff, as quoted by Ukrainska Pravda, suggested that the plane was carrying missiles for Russia’s S-300 air defence systems and made no mention of prisoners of war.

Initially, some Ukrainian media speculated that Ukrainian forces might have downed the Il-76, but these reports were later deleted. Belgorod regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov acknowledged an “incident” without providing further details. Social media videos depicted the plane going down and exploding near the village of Yablonovo, 70km (44 miles) northeast of Belgorod, at around 11:00 local time (08:00 GMT).

Ria Novosti reported that the Ukrainian prisoners were supposedly “being transported to Belgorod region for exchange,” although this information remains unconfirmed. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov acknowledged the crash but refrained from providing additional details.