Moscow accuses Kyiv of shooting down Il-76 aircraft filled with Ukrainian POWs
By Ramon Tomey // Jan 28, 2024

Russia has accused Ukraine of deliberately shooting down a Russian transport plane with 65 captured Ukrainian soldiers en route to a prison exchange.

Moscow leveled the accusation on Jan. 24, noting that the Ilyushin Il-76 military transport plane was carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs). The plane was shot down near the Russian city of Belgorod, which borders Ukraine, per a report by Russian state media. All 74 passengers – the 65 Ukrainian POWs, six Russian crew members and three Russian guards – were killed in the incident.

Footage of the incident was posted on the Telegram messaging app by the Baza channel, which is linked to the Russian Federal Security Service. The clip, which was verified by Reuters, showed a large aircraft falling toward the ground near the Yablnonovo in the oblast (province) and exploding in a large fireball.

"The Il-76 is a military transport aircraft designed to airlift troops, cargo, military equipment and weapons," the Epoch Times reported. "It usually has a crew of five, and it can carry up to 90 passengers."

Belgorod Oblast Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov also confirmed that there were no survivors on the plane. He added that the plane came down in the region's Korochansky district, located northeast of the city of Belgorod. Investigators and emergency workers had already responded to the scene, as per Gladkov.

Andrey Kartapolov, a member of the State Duma – Russia's lower house of parliament – said the attack was "done deliberately to sabotage the prisoner exchange." He added that the transport plane was shot down by three missiles manufactured either in the U.S. or in Germany.

"It was absolutely deliberate," he told the SHOT news outlet in an interview. "They knew very well that the plane was en route [and] where it was going. Operators of [Ukrainian] surface-to-air missile systems cannot mistake transport planes for military planes or helicopters as targets." (Related: WATCH: Ukrainian soldiers caught on camera appearing to commit war crimes by shooting Russian POWs in the legs.)

"If the details are confirmed, it would be the deadliest incident of the almost two-year-old war inside Russia's internationally recognized borders," the Epoch Times pointed out. Meanwhile, the Kremlin told a reporter that it was looking into the situation.

Kyiv remains silent on the matter

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense did not immediately reply to a request for comment sent by Reuters. According to the Interfax-Ukraine news agency, the ministry did not have any reliable information for now and it would share additional information when it did.

"Comments will come a little later," Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, told Reuters. "Time is needed to clarify all the data."

Meanwhile, Ukrainian media outlet Ukrainska Pravda initially reported that Kyiv had shot down the plane as it carried S-300 missiles. It cited military sources for this initial report but later corrected the story saying that information hadn't been confirmed by other sources.

"Reuters couldn't immediately verify details of who was on board, but Moscow and Kyiv have regularly swapped prisoners since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 in what it calls a 'special military operation,'" the Epoch Times stated. "The Belgorod region … has come under frequent attack from Ukraine in recent months, including a December missile strike that killed 25 people."

State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin meanwhile said the lower chamber would prepare an appeal to its counterparts in the U.S. and Germany – the U.S. Congress and the German Bundestag – "so their lawmakers at last can see clearly who they are financing … [and] helping."

"[Ukraine] shot down their own soldiers in mid-air. Their mothers, wives and children were waiting for them," said Volodin. "They took a decision and shot down our defenseless pilots on a military transport plane, who were carrying out a humanitarian mission, with American and German rockets."

Head over to for more stories about the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

Watch this clip of the transport plane with Ukrainian prisoners being shot down.

This video is from the Cynthia's Pursuit of Truth channel on

More related stories:

Human rights investigators find neo-Nazi torture chamber with corpse in Ukraine.

Horrific video appears to show Ukrainians using chemical weapons against Russian troops.

New report finds Ukrainian troops equally liable for nursing home massacre early in war with Russia.

Sources include:

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