Russophilic rebels in Ukraine’s troubled eastern region have shot down two fighter planes belonging to the country’s military according to reports breaking on Wednesday morning. The news comes just a week after the tragic shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over the country. Rebels that are seeking to have greater autonomy and/or break off from the Ukraine are thought to have been responsible for that attack.
According to this morning’s news the fighter jets, which were both of the Su-125 variety, were shot down in the same region as the Malaysian Airlines MH17. Rebels apparently attacked the fighter jets with rockets close to Saur Mogila, a town just west of the Russian border. The information was revealed by the official and western-backed government of the country, which is fighting hard against rebels in the wake of the MH17 crash.
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Rebels continue surface-to-air attacks
There were multiple attacks on Ukrainian military airplanes from the ground before the missile that struck the MH17 airliner was fired. It appears that the rebels are still attacking airplanes belonging to the country’s military, but international commercial flights are no longer permitted to fly over Ukrainian airspace.
Vladislav Seleznev, a spokesman who covers the eastern combat area for the Ukrainian military, said that the planes were struck by anti-air missiles. Both planes were carrying just a single pilot, but no confirmation of their condition had been made at time of writing. Witnesses reported seeing at least one open parachute after the planes crashed into the ground in eastern Ukraine.
Limited ceasefire in Ukraine
The Ukrainian military has said that it had agreed a ceasefire in the area immediately surrounding the crash site of the MH17 Malaysian airliner. The ceasefire is designed to allow observers and investigators to carry out their inquiries without interference. The government refused to accept a total ceasefire with the rebels in the wake of the crash. Analysts asserted that this was because of the state’s strong position in the conflict at the time.
The 25-mile radius ceasefire area was apparently not breached by this morning’s shooting and the Ukrainian military says that it has not personnel in the area. According to country’s defense ministry the shooting down of the two fighter jets occurred on the edge of that area, about 25 miles south of the MH17 crash site.
The Ukrainian Army is, however, pushing the rebel forces hard in other areas. Last night saw shelling and gunfire take over the streets of Donetsk, a key rebel stronghold. The military said that it was making inroads into the city on Wednesday morning as rebel fighters began to abandon their defensive positions on the outskirts of the urban area.
Flight MH17 shooting still unsolved
Even though international observers have said that the evidence in the MH17 case points to the use of a Buk missile system by pro-Russian rebels in the Donetsk region, there has not been a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the tragedy, which killed close to 300 people last week. The investigation is continuing at the moment, though there is no good estimate of when its results may be made public.