Russian military plane crashes near Ukrainian border, as Kremlin claims Ukraine shot it down

24 January 2024, 10:39 | Updated: 24 January 2024, 13:52

Ukraine downs Russian plane in Belgorod

By Kit Heren

A Russian military plane has crashed near the border of Ukraine with no survivors, with Moscow claiming that Ukrainian armed forces shot it down.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Ukraine said claims that it had shot down the plane were unverified and urged caution before the facts were confirmed.

Local media originally reported that the armed forces had targeted the aircraft, before the reports were removed. Ukrainian outlets also said the plane was carrying missiles.

Russia claimed that the plane, which was shot down over the Russian border region of Belgorod at around 11am local time (9am UK time), was transporting 65 prisoners of war. The foreign ministry said that it was a "barbaric act of terror".

Russia's ministry of defence said that another six crew members and three attendants were on board the Ilyushin IL-76 plane. The government said that all 74 people on board had died. Ukraine said that it a prisoner exchange had been planned.

Neither Russia nor Ukraine's claim has been independently verified at this stage.

A Russian plane crashed on Wednesday
A Russian plane crashed on Wednesday. Picture: Social media

Andrei Kartapolov, a retired Russian general, said in the country's parliament that the missiles said to have shot down the plane were of a type that have been supplied to Ukraine by the West.

The Russian defence ministry said that an "Aerospace Forces commission has already flown to the crash site in order to establish the causes of the disaster".

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he didn't have much to share, adding: "This is quite new, fresh information. Now we will get to grips with it".

Regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on his Telegram channel that an "incident" had taken place and that emergency services were working. He added that everyone on board had died.

"The crash site is now cordoned off," Mr Gladkov said. "All operational services are on site and investigative measures are being carried out," he added. "A commission is sent to the site to establish the causes of the disaster."

The Ukrainian government said that claims that the plane was shot down by Ukraine had not been verified.

They said in a statement: "Coordination headquarters and other specialized structures collect and analyse all necessary information.

"Prior to the publication of official statements or comments by authorized persons or bodies, we urge the mass media and citizens to refrain from spreading unverified information.

"We emphasize that the enemy is actively carrying out special information operations directed against Ukraine, which are aimed at destabilizing Ukrainian society."

Russian ambassador Andrey Kelin says 'there's no chance' of military conflict between UK and Russia

The fate of Ukraine remains uncertain nearly two years after Russia's invasion, with some Western backers said to be wavering in their support.

But the war could come to the West anyway, with a senior Nato official saying earlier in January that the US and Europe could face all-out war with Russia within 20 years.

And the British public faces being called up to fight in the event of a war with Russia because the military is "too small", according to General Sir Patrick Sanders.