A Russian military jet carrying 74 people crashed in Russia’s Belgorod area, close to the Ukrainian border, according to Russian official media. According to the region’s governor, everyone on board died.
The reason for the accident is still unknown, and there are different reports regarding who or what was on board. According to Russian official media, 65 Ukrainian military personnel were on the plane heading to Belgorod for a prisoner swap.
However, Ukraine’s military reported the jet was carrying air defense weapons. There has been no authentication of either side’s claims and Ukraine has been contacted for comment on reports that it shot down the jet.
Ukraine has launched regular assaults on Belgorod in recent weeks. At the end of December last year, attacks killed at least 25 individuals, making it one of the bloodiest single episodes for Russian civilians throughout the war.
According to the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation, the wrecked plane was an IL-76, a Soviet-era long-range freighter that had been in service since 1975. It normally flies with a seven-person flight crew and has a payload capacity of roughly 50 tons.
The Air Charter Service, a firm that hires out jets, says they are not built as passenger aircraft but may accommodate standard, airline-style seating.