The defense ministry was cited by state news agency RIA as claiming that a Russian Ilyushin Il-76 military transport plane carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war intended to be swapped for Russian inmates crashed close to the Ukrainian border on Wednesday.
The plane was carrying 74 people, including six crew and three guards when it crashed, RIA cited the defence ministry as saying. There was no immediate information on the cause.
During a parliamentary session, former general and Russian parliamentarian Andrei Kartapolov claimed that three missiles had brought down the aircraft. He omitted to mention where he got his knowledge.
Reuters could not immediately verify details of who was on board, but Russia and Ukraine regularly swap prisoners of war. Ukraine’s defence ministry and air force did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
Video posted on the Telegram messenger app by Baza, a channel linked to Russian security services, and verified by Reuters, showed a large aircraft falling towards the ground near the village of Yablonovo in the Belgorod region and exploding in a vast fireball.