RUSSIAN MILITARY PLANE CRASHES, KILLS 65 UKRAINE PRISONERS
Russia’s Defence Ministry has said that the country’s military transport plane carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war, six crew and three people accompanying them crashed on Wednesday morning in Russia’s Belgorod region near Ukraine.
However, the actual cause of the crash which reportedly occurred at around 11am, was not immediately clear nor has it been ascertained if anyone survived in the crash.
The AP reports that the Russian Defence Ministry said that authorities were investigating the cause of the crash, and that a special military commission was on the way to the crash site.
It was reported that earlier on Wednesday, Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said that a major Russian missile attack that apparently was devised to overwhelm Ukraine’s air defences had killed 18 people and injured 130.
This is as Ukraine is marking the 700th day since the full-scale invasion by the Russian forces started.
According to the AP report, President Zelenskyy said that the barrage employing more than 40 ballistic, cruise, anti-aircraft and guided missiles early Tuesday hit 130 residential buildings in three Ukrainian cities, “all ordinary houses.”
Russia’s onslaught, which included targets in the capital Kyiv and second-largest city Kharkiv, was the heaviest in weeks and lent weight to Zelenskyy’s appeals for Western allies to provide more military aid.
President Zelenskyy on Tuesday said that “This year, the main priority is to strengthen air defense to protect our cities and towns, as well as defend frontline positions.”
With the 1,500-kilometer (930-mile) front line largely static amid icy weather and as both sides seek to replenish their weapons stockpiles, the war recently has focused on long-range strikes.
Analysts have said that Russia stockpiled missiles to pursue a winter campaign of aerial bombardment, while Ukraine has sought to strike inside Russia with new types of drones.
The AP reports that a US think tank said that Russia may have employed decoy missiles in Tuesday’s attack in an effort to open up holes in Ukraine’s air defenses.
The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War reportedly said that Moscow is likely trying to acquire more ballistic missiles from foreign countries, including Iran and North Korea, because they may be more effective in some circumstances.
A regional Governor, Oleh Syniehubov, said that further barrage of Russian S-300 missiles struck residential districts of Kharkiv late Tuesday, injuring nine people and damaging residential buildings.
But Russia has denied that its forces struck civilian areas, although there is reported substantial evidence to the contrary claim of Russia.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that air defenses shot down four Ukrainian drones over the Oryol region of western Russia early Wednesday.
Oryol Mayor, Yuri Parakhin, said that several drones were downed over the city. He said there were no casualties, but windows were shattered in several apartment buildings in the city.
A regional Governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said that another Ukrainian drone was shot down early Wednesday over the Belgorod border region, adding that there were no casualties or damage.
Ukraine’s allies have promised to keep sending military aid packages, even though their resources are stretched.
Help from the United States, by far Ukraine’s single biggest provider, has also hit political snags.
The German defense ministry announced Wednesday that it plans to send six SEA KING Mk41 multi-role helicopters from Bundeswehr stocks to Ukraine.The government has reportedly said that since the beginning of the war, military deliveries from Germany have amounted to around 6 billion euros ($6.52 billion), including substantial anti-aircraft and air defense systems.