Air defenses were active in Russia's Belgorod Oblast shortly before a Russian Il-76 military transport plane crashed on Jan. 24, according to Belgorod Oblast governor Vyacheslav Gladkov's Telegram channel.
Gladkov reported that air defenses were operating at 10:35 a.m. local time, saying that a drone had been shot down over the village of Blizhnee, located around 60 kilometers southwest of Yablanovo where the plane crashed at around 11:00 local time.
He also said that local authorities were still looking into the consequences on the ground after the drone was downed, adding that according to preliminary data, there are were casualties or damage.
Gladkov does not mention the plane crash in connection with the air defenses or the drones that were shot down.
The Russian Defense Ministry claimed earlier on Jan. 24 that 65 captured military Ukrainian personnel were aboard the plane on its way for a prisoner exchange, as well as six crew members and three accompanying people. Ukraine has not confirmed whether Ukrainian POWs were on the plane.
The Kyiv Independent could not verify these claims. The Ukrainian military did not immediately respond to the Kyiv Independent's request for comment.
Later on Jan. 24, the Ukrainian media outlet Suspilne said that it had analyzed a list that Russian propagandist Margarita Simonyan shared with the names of the Ukrainian POWs allegedly killed in a plane crash on Jan. 24, confirming that the list of names are in fact Ukrainian soldiers currently held by Russia.
Suspilne could not confirm, however, that those on the list were actually on the plane when it crashed, nor that they were potentially part of a prisoner exchange.