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Russian plane crash kills 31

A Russian passenger plane crashed and burst into flames after takeoff in an oil-producing region of Siberia. Thirteen survivors were pulled from the wreckage and rushed to hospital by helicopter.

(REUTERS) Moscow - A Russian passenger plane crashed and burst into flames after takeoff in an oil-producing region of Siberia on Monday, killing at least 31 of the 43 people on board, emergency officials said. Television footage showed the plane, which had broken in two, lying in a snowy field. Only the tail and rear part of the fuselage were visible.

It was not immediately clear what caused the UTair airlines ATR 72 to crash.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A Decisive Spring? How Ukraine Plans To Beat Back Putin's Coming Offensive

The next months will be decisive in the war between Moscow and Kyiv. From the forests of Polesia to Chernihiv and the Black Sea, Ukraine is looking to protect the areas that may soon be the theater of Moscow's announced offensive. Will this be the last Russian Spring?

Photo of three ​Ukrainian soldiers in trenches near Bakhmut, Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers in trenches near Bakhmut, Ukraine

Anna Akage

Ukrainian forces are digging new fortifications and preparing battle plans along the entire frontline as spring, and a probable new Russian advance, nears.

But this may be the last spring for occupying Russian forces.

"Spring and early summer will be decisive in the war. If the great Russian offensive planned for this time fails, it will be the downfall of Russia and Putin," said Vadym Skibitsky, the deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence.

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Skinitysky added that Ukraine believes Russia is planning a new offensive in the spring or early summer. The Institute for the Study of War thinks that such an offensive is more likely to come from the occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk than from Belarus, as some have feared.

Still, the possibility of an attack by Belarus should not be dismissed entirely — all the more so because, in recent weeks, a flurry of MiG fighter jet activity in Belarusian airspace has prompted a number of air raid alarms throughout Ukraine.

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