Ukraine Military Plane Shot Down by Pro-Russians


The Ukrainian defence ministry has confirmed that a military transport plane has been shot down in the east of the country.  49 service personnel that were on board have been reported to have been killed and Pro-Russian rebels are said to be behind the attack.

The Il-76 transport plane crashed after it came under anti-aircraft fire over the city of Luhansk in what was described as a ‘cynical and treacherous’ attack by ‘terrorists’.  The plane was carrying troops as well as military equipment and was just coming to land in the airport in the city.

Ongoing problems

It is believed to be the largest single loss of life suffered by the Ukrainian government since operations began to defeat the insurgents in the east of the country.  Military spokesman Vladislav Seleznov stated that the investigation was beginning into how the plane was brought down but some initial reports indicate a Stinger-like missile was used.

The incident follow less than a week after a series of attacks by the pro-Russia forces on the airport at Luhansk which is under government control in a city where the rebels hold much of the territory.  The city is one of two eastern regions that have declared independence from Kiev.

The government’s operation against what they term terrorists has seen at least 270 people dead over the last two months.  Newly elected president Petro Poroshenko said in his inauguration speech last week that the fighting had to stop.

Russian tanks

The US has stated that it is confident that Russian tanks are being used by the rebels against the government forces.  A state department spokeswoman said that Russia will claim that the tanks were Ukrainian but no Ukrainian tanks were in the area at the time.  They are confident based on this that the tanks came across the border from Russia.

Russian tanks in Ukraine were first filmed in a number of towns in the Donetsk area, further igniting the row between Kiev and Moscow.  Russia denied the allegations and said the tanks were Ukrainian in origin.

New president

Hopes were high with the election of the new president, Poroshenko, in the May elections that stability could begin to return to the country.  Poroshenko won an outright victory in the elections despite being unaffiliated with any of the political parties.

The new president is the owner of Ukraine’s largest confectionary manufacturer Roshen and was a key backer of the 2004 Orange Revolution in the country.  He served as Foreign Minister to Yulia Tymoshenko as well as Trade Minister under Viktor Yanukovych.

The 49 year old is firmly pro-European and has the backing of Washington and also the European Union leaders.  His business background makes him well suited to handling the economic problems in the country and his past experience means he knows the political landscape as well.

Poroshenko portrays himself as a pragmatist who sees the only way forward to have close ties with Europe but to mend relations with Russia and has also pledged to root out corruption in the country.  However, he has taken a harder line with the insurgents in the east of the country and refused to negotiate with them.


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