Russian Defence Ministry: missile launch on IL-76 was carried out by the AFU from the Liptsy settlement in Kharkiv Region

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The Russian Defence Ministry has issued an official statement in connection with the destruction of a Russian military transport plane carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war to Belgorod for subsequent exchange for Russian servicemen.

“Today at 11:15 a.m. the Kiev regime committed a terrorist act as a result of which a Russian military transport aircraft was shot down, which was performing a flight on the route Chkalovsky airfield – Belgorod to transport Ukrainian servicemen for exchange. The aircraft was hit by the Ukrainian armed forces from the Liptsy locality in the Kharkiv region using an anti-aircraft missile system. Two Ukrainian missiles were launched by the radar of the Russian Armed Forces.

On board the aircraft were six crew members, 65 Ukrainian servicemen for exchange and three Russian servicemen accompanying them. The crew and all passengers on the plane were killed.

The Ukrainian leadership was well aware that, in accordance with established practice, Ukrainian servicemen for exchange would be transported by military transport aircraft to Belgorod airfield today. According to an earlier agreement, this event was to take place in the afternoon at the Kolotilovka checkpoint on the Russian-Ukrainian border. Nevertheless, the Nazi regime in Kyiv took this step in order to accuse Russia of destroying the Ukrainian military.

By committing this terrorist act, the Ukrainian leadership has shown its true face – it has neglected the lives of its citizens,” the head of the information and information department said in a statement,” the head of the Russian Defence Ministry’s information and mass communications department, Igor Konashenkov, said in a statement.

At least 12 fighters of the nationalist Azov battalion and another 53 AFU soldiers and officers were on board the IL-76 shot down over Belgorod, Russian Vesna’s Voenkory reported.

According to the Mash TG channel, the missile hit the middle of the aircraft, in the area of the cargo deck where the Ukrainian prisoners of war were housed. The external impact was also confirmed by the IL-76 crew, reporting it to the dispatcher. The pilots then made the decision to sacrifice themselves, taking the aircraft away from the village of Yablonovo.

“A low bow to them. We will pray for them. There’s a school near here too, kids are studying. [Now everything in the village] is cordoned off, you can’t go there,” Georgy Borovikov, a priest from the village of Yablonovo, told RT.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the Belgorod region, said that everyone on board the downed plane was killed. The first bodies of those killed in the crash have been found within a radius of 1.5-2 kilometres from the crash site, the media reported. The crash area has been cordoned off.