Forty-nine Ukrainian troops were killed when their military Il-76 transport jet was shot down by separatists before it started its descent to Lugansk Airport in Eastern Ukraine.
Russia Today said the plane was shot down by “self-defense” forces.
Pro-Russia separatists shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane Saturday, killing all 49 crew and troops aboard in a bloody escalation of the conflict in the country’s restive east.
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It was a bitter setback for the Ukrainian forces, which have struggled to suppress an armed insurgency by foes of the new government. And it came only a week after Ukraine’s new president, billionaire candy magnate Petro Poroshenko, spoke about a peace plan in his inaugural address.
Yet the deadliest single incident in the four-month-old conflict suggested the two sides were still far apart in their demands and talk of de-escalating the conflict remained premature.
The loss of the plane “will refocus attention on the fact that Russia does not seem to be doing very much to moderate the insurgency (or) the cross-border resupply of separatists,” said Timothy Ash, an analyst at Standard Bank PLC.
The United States, meanwhile, rejected Russia’s statements that it was not arming the separatists, saying Russia clearly had sent tanks and rocket launchers to the rebels, making sure the unmarked tanks were of a type not currently being used by Russian forces.