Russian IL-76 Carrying 65 Ukrainian POWs Shot Down by Patriot or IRIS-T Missiles: Russia

A second Il-76 plane carrying 80 POWs reportedly changed its course
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 12:26 PM, January 24, 2024
  • 1139
Russian IL-76 Carrying 65 Ukrainian POWs Shot Down by Patriot or IRIS-T Missiles: Russia
Crash site of ill-fated Il-76 in Belgorod, Russia, on January 24, 2024 @via Russian media

A Russian Il-76 heavy-lift military transport aircraft with 65 Ukrainian Prisoners of War (POWs) on board who were scheduled for exchange crashed in the Belgorod region of Russia, bordering Ukraine, after being “shot down by three Patriot or IRIS-T missiles.”

The head of the Duma Defense Committee, Andrei Kartapolov, during a plenary meeting of the State Duma, was quoted as announcing this by Russia’s RBK Group media.

The crash resulted in the tragic death of all 74 individuals, including six crew members and three escorts. The incident occurred during a routine flight, and Russia officially declared no survivors.

The aircraft was captured on video losing altitude rapidly and crashing near a residential area. The IL-76 was out of the pilot's control and caught fire upon crashing on its right wing.

Moscow's defense ministry reported the crash around 11 am Moscow time, stating, "On board were 65 captured Ukrainian army servicemen being transported to the Belgorod region for exchange, six crew members, and three escorts."

Conflicting narratives emerged as Russia claimed the plane was carrying POWs, while Ukrainian media, citing local sources, initially reported the downing of the aircraft carrying missiles for the S-300 surface-air defense system. Russia's parliament speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, accused Kyiv of shooting down the plane carrying Prisoners of War, describing it as an intentional act against their own soldiers.

The crash site in the Korochansky district witnessed the deployment of an investigation team and emergency services. The IL-76, a military transport aircraft designed to airlift troops, cargo, and military equipment, has been in service since the 1970s.

Russian IL-76 Carrying 65 Ukrainian POWs Shot Down by Patriot or IRIS-T Missiles: Russia
Crash site of ill-fated Il-76 in Belgorod, Russia, on January 24, 2024 @via Russian media

The incident marks a somber moment in the context of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, which will reach its two-year mark next month.

In response to the crash, Russia accused Ukraine of deliberately shooting down the aircraft during a prisoner exchange, asserting that it was a sabotage act.

Lawmaker Andrei Kartapolov claimed that three U.S. or German-manufactured missiles caused the crash, making it potentially the deadliest incident of the two-year-old war within Russia's borders. Ukraine's defense ministry refrained from immediate comments, emphasizing the need for time to gather reliable information.

Another Il-76 plane carrying 80 POWs changed its course

According to Russian media reports, the ill-fated IL-76 was followed by another aircraft of the same type, carrying 80 Ukrainian Armed Forces prisoners. "The Ukrainian leadership was well aware of the impending exchange and was informed of how the prisoners would be delivered," stated Kartapolov. He revealed that the second plane, destined for a prisoner exchange, had to change its course.

Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin proposed, "Let’s figure out what missiles and launchers were used." He went on to suggest preparing an appeal to the U.S. Congress and the German Bundestag, urging lawmakers to scrutinize their support and funding for the parties involved.

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