Russian Plane With 65 Prisoners Of War Crashes Near Ukraine, All Dead

The plane crashed in the Belgorod region of Russia which borders Ukraine.

The aircraft crashed on its right wing and was up in flames.

A Russian IL-76, a heavy-lift military transport aircraft crashed with 65 Ukrainian Prisoners of War (POWs) in the Belgorod region of Russia, which borders the region. The POWs were being transported for an exchange in swap. Russia said there are no survivors in the plane crash.

A video of the crash, shot from a distance, showed the aircraft rapidly losing altitude and heading straight toward the ground, the IL-76 was out of the pilot's control and crashed near a residential area. The aircraft crashed on its right wing and was up in flames.

"At around 11 am Moscow time (0800 GMT), an IL-76 aircraft crashed in the Belgorod region during a routine flight," AFP reported quoting Moscow's defence ministry as saying.

"On board were 65 captured Ukrainian army servicemen being transported to the Belgorod region for exchange, six crew members and three escorts," it said.

Meanwhile, Russia has claimed that the plane was carrying POWs but AFP, quoting local media in Ukraine, reported that its defence forces downed the aircraft as it was carrying missiles for the S-300 surface-air defence system and not POWs. Russia's parliament speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, has accused Kyiv of shooting down the plane carrying Prisoners of War,

"They shot their own soldiers in the air. Their own," Volodin told lawmakers in a plenary session. "Our pilots, who were carrying out a humanitarian mission, were shot down."

The crash occurred in the Korochansky district, northeast of the region's capital, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram.

"Now an investigation team and emergency services are working on the site. I have changed my working schedule and travelled to the district," Gladkov said.

The Russian IL-76 is designed to airlift troops, cargo and military equipment like tanks, howitzers, and ammunition. The aircraft was manufactured by Ilyushin and was inducted into service in the 1970s when the USSR existed. The aircraft was designed to replace the An-12 (Antonov 12). The aircraft has a civil and military variant and is operated by the Indian Air Force as well.

The IL-76 fleet in the Indian Air Force is limited and ageing and the IAF operates new platforms like the C-17 Globemaster III, and C-130J Hercules that are US-based. 

Russia's Ill-Fated Invasion

The Russia-Ukraine war will complete its two years next month. The Russian forces have failed to make considerable gains in Ukraine despite boasting a strong, formidable military which is capable of defeating any force. 

The aircraft crashed in Russian airspace by Ukrainian forces as claimed by their parliament speaker. In two years, Moscow has failed to establish air superiority even with its advanced 4.5 and 5th generation aircraft and missile defence systems. 

The war in Ukraine has dented Russia's confidence in its conventional forces and increased the importance to Moscow of non-strategic nuclear weapons (NSNWs) as a means of deterring and defeating NATO in a potential future conflict, a leading Western think-tank said.

NSNWs include all nuclear weapons with a range of up to 5,500 km (3,400 miles), starting with tactical arms designed for use on the battlefield - as opposed to longer-range strategic nuclear weapons that Russia or the US could use to strike each other's homeland.

Monday's report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) raised the question of whether Russia might be emboldened to fire an NSNW in the belief that the West lacks the resolve to deliver a nuclear response.

The ill-fated invasion of Ukraine by Russia on February 24, 2022, is a lesson for militaries across the world regarding what not to do in a conventional armed conflict, which includes poor training, mismanagement in maintaining supply lines, no centre of gravity (CoG) in the war with multiple objectives and failure to anticipate continuous supply of military aid to Ukraine from US-led NATO countries.

Moscow and Kyiv have also recently accused each other of a sharp escalation in attacks on civilian areas over the past two months. Russian strikes wounded nine people in the eastern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv, the region's governor said Wednesday.

Regional governor Oleg Sinegubov said Moscow's forces had fired S-300 surface-to-air missiles at the city, which lies next to Ukraine's border with Russia.