Highlights

  • Moscow: 74 killed, including 65 prisoners of war
  • Russia accuses Ukraine of shooting down plane
  • Kyiv questions presence of prisoners on board

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Russia and Ukraine trade blame over plane crash that killed all 74

The aircraft crashed in rural Russia, and authorities there said all 74 people on board, including 65 Ukranian prisoners of war, were killed.

Russia and Ukraine trade blame over plane crash that killed all 74

During the United Nations Security Council meeting Thursday, Russia and Ukraine traded accusations over the crash of a military transport plane that Moscow said was carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war and was shot down by Kyiv's forces.

The Il-76 crashed in a huge ball of fire in a rural area of Russia, and authorities there said all 74 people on board, including 65 POWs, six crew members and three Russian servicemen, were killed.

The Associated Press could not independently confirm who was aboard or how the plane was downed.

Early in the meeting, Under Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo stressed that the UN is not in a position to verify reports or the circumstances of the crash.

Russia alleged that Kyiv shot down the plane with two missiles and said the prisoners of war were headed for an exchange.

"The Ukrainian leadership was well aware of the route and method of transporting soldiers to the place of a pre-agreed exchange," said Russian U.N. Rep. Dmitry Polyanskiy.

Russia's top investigative agency, known as the Investigative Committee, opened a criminal probe Thursday on charges that the crash was a terrorist act.

Ukraine responded by casting doubt on the fact that POWs were aboard and putting forward their own theories, including implying that the plane may have posed a threat.

"According to the laws of warfare, military transport aircraft of the armed forces of the Russian Federation is a legitimate military target," said Ukrainian U.N. Rep. Khrystyna Hayovyshyn. "Ukraine emphasizes that in accordance with international law, Russia bears full responsibility for the lives of Ukrainian prisoners of war."

Ukrainian officials confirmed that a prisoner exchange was due to happen Wednesday. But they said it was called off. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine would push for an international investigation.

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