Ukraine Separatists Have Shot Down Multiple Aircraft Over The Past Month

Pro-Russian separatist UkraineBaz Ratner/REUTERSA pro-Russian separatist guards a checkpoint as tires burn behind him, near the town of Slaviansk in eastern Ukraine on May 2, 2014.

A Boeing 777 Malaysian airlines plane has reportedly been shot down along the Russian-Ukrainian border, according to an official from Ukraine’s Ministry of the Interior.

The border is currently a war zone with sustained fighting between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatist rebels. And within the past month, the separatists have brought down a number of Ukrainian military aircraft.

The cause of the crash isn’t conclusively known at the moment. Pro-Russian separatists may have nothing to do with it. But they have been successful in destroying aircraft in recent months of the conflict.

Armed with Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS), the separatists have been taking down Ukrainian military aircraft since the beginning of June. On June 13, separatists shot down a Ukrainian transport plane that had been carrying 40 paratroopers and nine crew members.

At least 10 other Ukrainian aircraft — all of them significantly lower-flying than a Boeing 777 — have been shot down since the rebels started using MANPADS according to a count kept by military aviation expert David Cenciotti, including five Mi-24 Hinds, two Mi-8 helicopters, one An-2, one An-30, and the Ukrainian transport plane.

According to an adviser to the Ukraine Interior Minister, the plane was shot down by a Buk ground-to-air missile system.

The pro-Moscow separatists have denied responsibility for shooting down the Malaysian flight, according to The Interpreter.

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