Russia is seeking to hold an emergency session of the UN Security Council regarding the plane crash

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Russia has called for an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday to discuss the crash of a Russian plane that Moscow says was carrying captured Ukrainian soldiers for a prisoner exchange, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Russia accused Ukraine of deliberately shooting down the military transport plane carrying 65 captured Ukrainian soldiers, in what it described as a barbaric act of terrorism that led to the deaths of 74 people.

Lavrov said in a press conference at the United Nations that Russia had called for a Security Council meeting at 3 p.m. Eastern time (2000 GMT).

He described the downing of the plane on Wednesday as a “criminal” act by Ukraine and said that Russia had requested the session be held so that the Ukrainians could explain how the plane went down.

“Ukrainian prisoners of war were transferred to the Belgorod region in order to carry out another exchange that was agreed upon between Moscow and Kiev,” Lavrov said.

He added, “Instead, the Ukrainian side launched an air defense missile from the Kharkov region. It targeted the plane and it was a fatal blow.”

Ukrainian military intelligence said Kiev was not asked to ensure the security of airspace on Wednesday around the Belgorod region in southern Russia, as was the case during previous prisoner-of-war exchanges with Moscow.

She said Russia’s accusations that Kiev shot down the transport plane could be a “planned act to destabilize the situation in Ukraine and weaken international support for our state.”

(Reporting by Daphne Psalidakis, Arshad Muhammad and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

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