July 14, 2024

A large Russian military transport plane crashed on Wednesday in the Belgorod region near the border with Ukraine, state news agencies said, citing a statement by the Russian Defense Ministry.

The ministry said that the plane carried 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war who were being transferred to the region to be exchanged for Russian service personnel. The claim could not be independently verified. The plane also carried six crew members and three other individuals, the ministry said, according to Tass, a Russian state news agency.

The Defense Ministry did not say whether there were any survivors.

The Ukrainian military intelligence agency said that it could not immediately comment. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said that it was looking into the situation and declined to comment, according to Suspilne, a Ukrainian news website. A Ukrainian Air Force representative said that the service could not yet comment.

Baza, a Russian telegram channel, posted what it said was a video of the crash, showing a large aircraft rushing toward the ground with a subsequent explosion producing a giant fireball.

The plane, an Il-76, was designed decades ago in the Soviet Union to perform military duties such as airlifting troops, cargo and weapons.

Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, declined to comment on the reports, telling journalists that the information was still “too fresh.” The Russian Air Force command dispatched a group to the scene of the crash to try to determine the cause, according to the Defense Ministry statement.

The Belgorod region of Russia has a long border with Ukraine. Over the past few weeks, it has been the scene of frequent Ukrainian attacks, including a missile bombardment in December.

Andrew E. Kramer contributed reporting.