Malaysia Airlines flight 17

Kiev accuses Russia of shooting down fighter jets near flight MH17 crash site

Kiev says two fighters shot down in eastern Ukraine, rebels confirm one plane shot down

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 July, 2014, 8:07pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 July, 2014, 12:33pm

Two Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down yesterday, not far from where a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was brought down last week in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 aboard.

Ukraine initially blamed pro-Russian rebels for the latest incident. But hours later, the country's National Security Council said the jets were brought down by missiles fired from Russia.

"According to preliminary information, the rockets were launched from Russian territory," the council said, adding that the Su-25 fighters were flying at an altitude of 5,200 metres.

A spokesman for Ukraine's military operations said the planes were shot down near Savur Mogila, site of a second world war memorial to Soviet troops who ambushed occupying Nazis.

He said he did not have information about the pilots. Journalists trying to reach the scene were turned back by rebels who fired shots near their car some 10km from the reported crash site.

The incident comes nearly a week after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was hit by a missile the West says was probably fired from a Russian-supplied launcher. Most of the Boeing 777 plane's debris was found near the village of Hrabove in eastern Ukraine.

While the insurgents deny having missiles capable of hitting a jetliner at cruising altitude, rebel leader Alexander Borodai has said separatist fighters do have Strela-10M ground-to-air missiles, which are capable of hitting targets up to an altitude of 3,500 metres.

Fighting raged near the rebels' two main centres in Donetsk and nearby Luhansk yesterday. Officials in Kiev said the separatists were leaving their positions on the outskirts of Donetsk and retreating towards the city centre. Russian media said the rebels had taken control of two villages on the border with Russia.

Reuters, Bloomberg, Agence France-Presse