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Russian Il-76 cargo plane crashes on the way to Ukraine ‘after catching fire mid-air’ killing four

A huge Russian Il-76 cargo plane has crashed en route to Ukraine, killing four crew members as it exploded in a massive fireball in the sky.

The Ilyushin-76 attempted an emergency landing in Ryazan shortly after refueling in the city.

But the plane burst into flames when it flew over while on a flight to resupply Vladimir Putin’s war effort.

A huge Russian Il-76 cargo plane has crashed en route to Ukraine, killing four crew members as it exploded in a massive fireball in mid-air

A huge Russian Il-76 cargo plane has crashed en route to Ukraine, killing four crew members as it exploded in a massive fireball in mid-air

A huge Russian Il-76 cargo plane has crashed en route to Ukraine, killing four crew members as it exploded in a massive fireball in mid-air

The Ilyushin-76 (file image) attempted an emergency landing in Ryazan shortly after refueling in the city

The Ilyushin-76 (file image) attempted an emergency landing in Ryazan shortly after refueling in the city

Dramatic video shows burning Russian military transport plane crashing into

When it landed behind residential towers, it exploded in flames and smoke, killing at least four of the nine crew members.

Others remain in the hospital in a ‘serious’ situation.

Voices are heard filming the stricken plane and saying: ‘Everything is on fire, look.’

And: ‘It’s flying at us… So scary, it’s flying at us… It’s going to hit the houses, look…

“This is it (the plane hits the ground).”

When it landed behind residential towers, it exploded in flames and smoke, killing at least four of the nine crew members

When it landed behind residential towers, it exploded in flames and smoke, killing at least four of the nine crew members

When it landed behind residential towers, it exploded in flames and smoke, killing at least four of the nine crew members

The plane burst into flames when it flew over while on a flight to resupply Vladimir Putin's war effort

The plane burst into flames when it flew over while on a flight to resupply Vladimir Putin’s war effort

The Ilyushin was on its way from Orenburg to Belgorod, close to the war zone, when it crashed.

Reports say it suffered engine failure after the refueling stop, but a full investigation is underway.

Belgorod is the capital of a Russian region of the same name that borders Ukraine.

The three who died at the crash site were named as Vladimir Petrushin, Nikolai Gorbunov and Dmitry Andreev.

Another crew member died in hospital.

Such Ilyushin aircraft have been used in recent months to transport military equipment to the war zone.

Ryazan is located 200 miles southeast of Moscow and not close to the war zone.

The three who died at the crash site were named as Vladimir Petrushin, Nikolai Gorbunov and Dmitry Andreev, while another died in hospital

The three who died at the crash site were named as Vladimir Petrushin, Nikolai Gorbunov and Dmitry Andreev, while another died in hospital

The city is an important base for Russian paratroopers, who suffered significant losses in the war in Ukraine.

The crash site’s field was near shops and residential buildings, but there were no casualties on the ground.

The cause of the crash was investigated early today.

It comes as Ukrainian troops withdraw from Severodonetsk in the face of a brutal Russian offensive that is turning the city to rubble on the battlefield, a senior Ukrainian official said today.

The news came shortly after the European Union strongly supported Ukraine and granted the former Soviet Republic candidate status, although there is still a long way to go to membership.

Capturing Severodonetsk, in the Donbas region, has become a major goal of the Russians who are targeting eastern Ukraine after being driven out of Kiev following their invasion in February.

The strategically important industrial center has been the scene of weeks of street fighting as the underprivileged Ukrainians fiercely defended themselves.

An aerial view of destroyed houses near Hostomel Avenue while the war between Russia and Ukraine is in Irpin.  continues

An aerial view of destroyed houses near Hostomel Avenue while the war between Russia and Ukraine is in Irpin. continues

But Sergiy Gaiday – governor of Lugansk, to which the city also belongs – said the Ukrainian army should withdraw.

“They have been ordered to do this,” he said on Telegram.

“It just doesn’t make sense to stay in positions that have been fired on relentlessly for months.”

The city has been “nearly turned to rubble” by constant bombing, he added.

‘All vital infrastructure has been destroyed. Ninety percent of the city is damaged, 80 percent (of the) houses will have to be demolished,” he said.

The Ukrainians had already been driven back from much of the city, leaving them with only the industrial areas.

Conquering Severodonetsk and its sister city Lysychansk would give the Russians control of Lugansk and allow them to penetrate further into the wider Donbas.

Gaiday said the Russians are now advancing towards Lysychansk, which is under increasing pressure from Russia.

AFP journalists who drove out of the city on Thursday had to jump out of cars twice and lie on the ground as Russian troops shelled the city’s main supply road.

They saw dark smoke rising over the road ahead, heard artillery fire and saw flashes of light, while the road was littered with trees that had been felled by shelling.

Russia today continued its massive attack in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region on the four-month anniversary of Putin launching his ferocious invasion

Russia today continued its massive attack in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region on the four-month anniversary of Putin launching his ferocious invasion

A woman walks past a shell crater in front of a damaged residential building in the city of Siversk, Donetsk

A woman walks past a shell crater in front of a damaged residential building in the city of Siversk, Donetsk

The situation for those who remain in the city became increasingly bleak.

Liliya Nesterenko said her house had no gas, water or electricity and that she and her mother were cooking on a campfire. She was cycling down the street and had come out to feed a friend’s pets.

But the 39-year-old was optimistic about the city’s defence: ‘I believe in our Ukrainian army, it should be able to handle it.

“They’ve already prepared.”

A representative of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine previously told AFP that the resistance of Ukrainian troops trying to defend Lysychansk and Severodonetsk was “pointless and pointless”.

“If our soldiers go, very soon the entire territory of the Lugansk People’s Republic will be liberated,” said Andrei Marochko, a spokesman for the Moscow-backed army of Lugansk.

While Ukraine called for accelerated arms deliveries, the United States announced it would send an additional $450 million worth of fresh weapons, including Himars missile systems.

The systems can simultaneously launch multiple precision missiles at a longer range.

At a summit in Brussels on Thursday, EU leaders granted candidate country status to Ukraine and Moldova.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the news as “a unique and historic moment” and added: “Ukraine’s future lies within the EU.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said the EU leaders’ decision sent a “very strong signal” to Russia that Europeans support Ukraine’s pro-Western aspirations.

President Vladimir Putin had stated that Ukraine is part of the Moscow sphere and insisted he acted on attempts to join the country in NATO, the Western alliance that comes with security guarantees.

The European powers had distanced themselves from US support for Ukraine’s NATO aspirations before the invasion, and EU membership is certainly years away.

Ukraine and Moldova will have to engage in lengthy negotiations and the European Union has set out steps that Kiev should take before that, including strengthening the rule of law and fighting corruption.

Western officials have also accused Russia of arming its main exports of gas and grain from Ukraine, contributing to global inflation and increasing world hunger.

A US official warned of new retaliatory measures against Russia at the Group of Seven summit attended by President Joe Biden in Germany on Sunday.

Germany stepped up an emergency gas plan to its second alert level, just one short of the maximum that could be rationed in Europe’s largest economy after Russia cut supplies.

“Gas is now a scarce commodity,” German economics minister Robert Habeck told reporters, urging households to reduce its use.

The demand for gas is lower in the summer, but shortages can cause problems with heating in the winter.

A Kremlin spokesman reiterated his claim that the supply constraints were due to maintenance and that the necessary equipment had not arrived from abroad.

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