Two Ukrainian military jets shot down as finger pointing continues over Malaysian Airlines Flight 17
DONETSK, Ukraine (CNN) — Two Ukrainian military jets were shot down Wednesday in the eastern part of the country, where pro-Russian rebels have fought against government forces, a Ukrainian military office said.
The pilots ejected, the office said. Information on their condition wasn’t immediately available.
An air defense system shot down the jets after the pilots completed a task near Dmytrivka, the military press office said.
News of the jets’ downing comes six days after the deadly crash of the civilian passenger plane Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine.
The first of the bodies of the 298 victims of that crash are being flown to the Netherlands on Wednesday.
Ukrainian officials have previously accused pro-Russia rebels of shooting down a number of military aircraft.
In the week leading up to the July 17 crash of MH17, Ukrainian officials said an Antonov An-26 transport plane and a Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jet had been brought down.
The latest reported shootdown highlights the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions between the rebels and Ukrainian security forces.
Claim and counterclaim
Meanwhile, the finger-pointing over who was responsible for bringing down the Boeing 777 continues.
U.S. officials say pro-Russian rebels were responsible for shooting down that plane, but they now believe it’s likely the rebels didn’t know it was a commercial airliner, U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday.
However, Vitaly Nayda, Ukraine’s director of informational security, told CNN’s Kyung Lah that the person who shot down the flight was “absolutely” a Russian. “A Russian-trained, well-equipped, well-educated officer … pushed that button deliberately,” he said.
Moscow has denied claims that it pulled the trigger. And Russian Army Lt. Gen. Andrei Kartapolov suggested a Ukrainian jet fighter may have shot the plane down. Ukraine’s government rejects that claim.
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