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Russian military plane crashes near Ukrainian border

Russia has said an Ilyushin-76 military transport plane has crashed in the southern Belgorod region.

State news agency RIA cited the Russian defence ministry as saying that the aircraft was carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war, alongside six crew members and three other people, when it crashed.

There was no immediate information on the cause.

Video posted on the Telegram messenger app by Baza, a channel linked to Russian security services, showed a large aircraft falling towards the ground and exploding in a vast fireball.

The IL-76 is a military transport aircraft designed to airlift troops, cargo, military equipment and weapons.

It has a normal crew of five people, and can carry up to 90 passengers.

Local governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said that an unspecified “incident” had occurred in the region’s Korochansky district, northeast of Belgorod city, and that he was going to inspect the site.

He said investigators and emergency workers were already on the scene.

There was no immediate official reaction in Kyiv, but local media cited sources in Ukraine’s defence forces as saying that its armed forces downed the plane, and that it was transporting missiles.

The Kremlin said in response to a reporter’s question that it was looking into the situation.

Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, has come under frequent attack from Ukraine in recent months, including a December missile strike which killed 25 people.

A view of a missile launched yesterday from Russia’s Belgorod region flying towards Kharkiv

It comes as Ukrainian officials said Russian strikes wounded nine in Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, just after a Russian missile barrage across the country that claimed more than a dozen lives.

The new Russian bombardments struck Kharkiv yesterday, hours after Moscow’s missile attack killed at least 18 and wounded around 130 people.

The regional governor Oleg Sinegubov said Russian forces had fired S-300 surface-to-air missiles at the city, which lies next to Ukraine’s border with Russia.

“As a result of the impact, nine people were injured, including one child, a four-year-old girl, who was given help at the scene,” he said.

“Four people were hospitalised – two men and two women,” he added, noting that residential buildings, municipal offices and an educational facility were damaged.

Russian forces had aimed to wrest control of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, early in their invasion, launched in February 2022.

Ukrainian forces pushed back Moscow’s army, which has been routinely shelling the city since.

Separately, the governor of the southern Kherson region said Russian forces had killed a total of five residents of his region over the course of the day before.

Six more people were wounded across the region, which the Kremlin claims is part of Russia, the governor, Oleksandr Prokudin, said on social media.

Both Russian and Ukraine have stepped up strikes on each others’ cities and critical infrastructure. Kyiv has urged its allies to help bolster its air defence systems to ward off Russian attacks.

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