The accident, which occurred around 11:00 Moscow time, attracted the attention of Russian and Ukrainian forces, who did not hesitate to send a special commission to investigate the causes of the disaster. “An investigation team and the Emergencies Ministry are on site. I have changed my agenda and I am heading there,” said the regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov on Telegram, promising to provide further details later.
The Moscow version
The spokesperson of the Russian president, Dmitri Peskov, confirmed that he had been informed of the incident but preferred not to provide further details. “This is quite fresh information, which we are dealing with,” Peskov said. The comment from Moscow’s Foreign Ministry was harsher: “Kiev committed an act of mad barbarism by shooting down the Il-76 and now casting doubt on the possibility of any agreements.”
🚨 💥 BREAKING: Ukrainian Armed Forces sources confirm the shooting down of a Russian IL-76 military plane transporting S-300 missiles over Belgorod region in Russia.
The rumor of Ukrainian POWs being on board the plane is FALSE. pic.twitter.com/2GtszJYI8v
— Igor Sushko (@igorsushko) January 24, 2024
Ukrainian military sources confirmed that the plane contained missiles and components for the S-300 anti-aircraft system, a detail that could trigger a further escalation of the conflict. Videos released on social networks show the plane crashing and, moments later, a fireball rising into the sky. A reconstruction that Russia disputes, pointing out that sending missiles by air “would not make sense” given that “they can travel by rail”.
At the moment there are no official comments from Kiev. Ukrainian Pravda reports that the Ukrainian authorities are “gathering information” on what happened. “Before the publication of official statements or comments by authorized persons or bodies, we invite the mass media and citizens to refrain from spreading unverified information,” the coordination headquarters for the treatment of prisoners of war. “We emphasize that the enemy is actively conducting special information operations directed against theUkrainewhich aim to destabilize society Ukraine“.
‼️ Il-76 military plane crashes in Belgorod region
There were 63 people on board, Russian media reported. All of them died
The estimated value of the plane is 27 million dollars.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that there were Ukrainian prisoners on board the plane. The… pic.twitter.com/3doCOmZuX7
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) January 24, 2024
Goodbye prisoner exchange?
The Korochansky district, where the incident occurred, represents an important piece in the map of the Ukrainian conflict. The area, in fact, is not new to episodes of violence, having hosted missile and drone attacks by the Ukrainian army in the past.
The incident certainly risks calling into question the agreement for the exchange of prisoners according to the 192 to 192 formula which had worked until now. According to the deputy general of the Russian Duma, Andrei Kartapolov, a second cargo plane was traveling shortly behind the crashed one but had to reverse course. There were other Ukrainian prisoners on board. “It was necessary to save people’s lives – said Kartapolov – Now there is no question of prisoner exchanges”.