Ukraine’s Security Council is claiming that two jets which were shot down over the country’s conflicted eastern region today were the victims of a direct attack from Russia. The two planes were brought down by anti-air missiles just miles from the country’s border with Russia. The claim follows a similar claim from last week that a Ukrainian transport plane was taken down by a Russian fighter jet rather than ground based pro-Russian rebels. The news was original reported by Reuters on Twitter.
A limited ceasefire, with a geographical range of 25 kilometers around the crash site of the MH17 Malaysian Airlines flight, was imposed recently. The two jets that were taken down today were apparently flying along the perimeter of that ceasefire zone, and it was widely reported that they were likely taken down by missiles from ground forces, the same fate that is believed to have befallen the commercial flight last week.
Jets go down in Ukraine
This morning Igor Strelkov, the man in charge of pro-Russian separatists in the Ukraine’s Donetsk region, claimed that his group was responsible for shooting down two Ukrainian military jet planes in the region. The militia leader said that one of the pilots appeared to have parachuted out of the airplane, while there was no information on the fate of the other. Each plane was carrying just one man according to a Ukrainian military statement on the incident.
The accusation that Russia shot down the two planes does not fit with the story that has been circulating this morning, but it does fit into a narrative that the Ukrainian government has been spinning since the conflict began. If Vladimir Putin did indeed order the shooting down of two Ukrainian military aircraft in the wake of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 disaster, there are bound to be repercussions.
Fighting in Ukraine spills over
The attack on Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 has brought more intense scrutiny to the conflict in the eastern half of the Ukraine, and it appears to have stoked a new found ferocity on behalf of the country’s government forces. The country’s army attacked rebel stronghold Donetsk throughout the last couple of days and were claiming small victories on the outskirts of the city this morning.
Claims that Russia is more involved in the fighting than it maintains are not new from the Ukrainian government. It is seeking more whole help from the United States and European powers in its fight to put down a rebellion that has torn the country for months. Any information that paints Russian forces as actively involved in the ongoing fighting could force a response from Western powers, who may choose to impose more grievous sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s country.
Whether or not the two planes were shot down by Russian forces this morning may be never satisfactorily answered, given the difficulty that international investigators have had in gaining access to the crash site of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. That plane’s crash caused shock waves that traveled around the world. The attention leveled at similar Ukrainian military losses appears to be a result of resonance rather than real concern with the fate of those affected by the country’s civil war.