Ukraine's military command has issued a carefully worded statement following the crash of a Russian military plane near the Ukrainian border, in which the General Staff of Ukraine's armed forces said Russian cargo weapons had been bringing weapons closer to the border recently.
In the statement, Ukraine said recent attacks on Kharkiv, which is about 30 kilometers from Russia, were being facilitated by the cargo planes bringing more weapons.
But, the Ukrainian General Staff statement stopped short of addressing Russian claims the crashed plane was carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war ahead of an exchange.
If you're just catching up now, here's what to know:
- About the crash site: The plane crashed about five to six kilometers from the village of Yablonovo in the Korocha District of Russia’s Belgorod Region, according to Russian state news agency TASS. Belgorod borders Ukraine to its southwest.
- Some background on the region: The region of Belgorod has been increasingly drawn into Russia’s war on Ukraine, with an increasingly emboldened Kyiv launching cross-border strikes on its cities and towns in an effort to dent domestic support for Moscow’s invasion. Earlier this month, Russia was forced to evacuate residents from the region after a series of retaliatory strikes from Ukraine.
- Air defenses active in the area: The Belgorod regional governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said air defense systems in the Belgorod region were active shortly before the crash of a Russian military transport plane Wednesday morning.
- Russia's foreign minister speaks: Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, has accused Ukraine of targeting the plane with a missile. He said he has requested an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting.
- White House weighs in: The White House says it is trying to get more information about who, or what, was on board the Russian military plane. But, National Security Spokesperson John Kirby said they did not have more information yet.
- Ukraine confirms exchange plans: Ukraine confirmed a prisoner swap was due to take place today, but said it was "not happening at the moment." Prisoner exchanges have taken place throughout the conflict, with the largest yet in early January.