Russian military plane carrying 74 people on board crashes in Belgorod region, state media say

(CNN) — Russia’s Defense Ministry said a Russian military plane carrying 74 people crashed in the Belgorod region, according to Russian news agency RAI Novosti.

plane crash site

Russian news agencies, citing the Defense Ministry, said 65 people on board were Ukrainian soldiers who were being taken to Belgorod ahead of a prisoner exchange. CNN cannot independently verify this claim.

The Kremlin declined to comment on the reported accident. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “This is absolutely new information, we will deal with it now. “I can’t say anything right now.”

Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said that “an investigative team and employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations are working at the scene. I changed my work schedule and went to the field. All details later.”

Gladkov said the “incident” occurred in the Korochansky district of the Belgorod region, northeast of the city of Belgorod.

The border city of Belgorod was the site of one of the deadliest Ukrainian attacks on Russian soil late last year. At least 24 people, including three children, were killed and 108 others were injured in the attacks, which were followed by retaliatory Russian attacks in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine.

The plane crash comes as Russia’s war in Ukraine is about to enter its third year, with both sides making little progress on the battlefield in recent months. Western intelligence assessments have warned that battlefield movements could come to a halt this year.

Kiev and Moscow have exchanged prisoners of war throughout the conflict. The largest exchange occurred in early January, when both sides exchanged more than 200 prisoners.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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