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Davidson News

Ukraine-Russia Tensions Escalate: Military Plane Shot Down, Claiming 74 Lives

A military transport plane carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners for a negotiated exchange crashed near Ukraine’s border, killing all 74 on board. Russia alleges intentional downing by Ukraine, terming it a “terrorist act.” Six Russian crew members and three other passengers perished. The incident occurred in the Belgorod region, with Russia accusing Kyiv of launching two missiles before the crash.

Traffic police officers block off a road near the crash site of the Russian Ilyushin Il-76 military transport plane outside the village of Yablonovo in the Belgorod Region, Russia January 24, 2024. REUTERS/Stringer

Accusations and Counterclaims

Russia’s Defense Ministry accuses Ukraine of deliberately shooting down the plane, branding it a “terrorist act” during a planned prisoner exchange.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy insists on an international investigation, denounces Russia’s handling of Ukrainian prisoners, and suggests foul play by Moscow.

Pro-Kremlin video footage captures the aircraft’s final moments, and regional warnings of a potential rocket attack by Ukraine add complexity to the incident.

READ ALSO: Ukrainian Forces Hold the Line Against Relentless Russian Assaults in Avdiivka

Uncertainty Surrounding Prisoner Exchange

Conflicting reports emerge from Ukrainian sources, initially suggesting the downing with Soviet-era missiles, later updated to unconfirmed status.

Some Ukrainian authorities label Russian claims as propaganda to destabilize Ukrainian society, while Kremlin propagandist Margarita Simonyan releases a list of alleged victims.

Despite ongoing tensions, prisoner exchanges have been areas of compromise between Ukraine and Russia, with a recent large-scale swap just after the New Year.

READ ALSO: Russia and Ukraine Unite in Skepticism: Doubt Trump’s Role in Ending Conflict

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