By Brett Daniel Shehadey
Special Contributor for In Homeland Security
Pro-Russian separatists claimed responsibility in shooting down two Ukrainian Sukhoi Su-25 fighters over Dmytrivka, in the Donetsk region. Both pilots ejected but there whereabouts remains unknown.
This comes just one week after a Malaysian commercial airliner was hit with surface-to-air missiles.
Ukraine blames Russia for firing the missiles and claims they originated from the Russian side of the border, using a BUK anti-aircraft missile system. This is not the first time the Russians have themselves crossed over and destroyed Ukrainian aircraft. Just last week before the commercial jet was hit, Ukraine officials chastised Moscow for sending a Russian fighter into Ukraine and destroying one of theirs near the border.
The separatists are gaining airspace control and limiting Ukraine’s airpower advantage of the flying Soviet era upgrades. They are using and gaining assistance of advanced Russian Federation anti-aircraft weaponry. Moscow has not stopped the supply of heavy weapons into rebel held areas, which is being tracked by Ukrainian and foreign intelligence services.
The total number of military aircraft destroyed is around 16, according to Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroisma. The official casualty count in the air was said to be 60 killed by the rebels.
All of this take place as 200 recovered civilian bodies of Flight MH17 are shipped to the Netherlands from Kharkiv; and after the Dutch-led team of investigators received a belated access to the crash site and were finally given the black box.
No one has claimed responsibility of shooting down of Flight MH17; in spite of separatists being culpable and Russia now being indirectly culpable for the supply of arms. Moscow blames Ukraine and refuses to ever take responsibility or apparently chastise the pro-Russian rebels.
The U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch began its examination of the black box flight recording data. Details of that to emerge soon. Previously, the Dutch officials said they believed that it has not been tampered with.
Russia has called for an “immediate cease-fire.” The separatists and Kiev have had multiple attempts at sparking a cease-fire or have each attempted to offer one. The two Ukrainian Su-25s were reportedly shot down around the crash site of MH17, where a temporary cease-fire had been called. Russians blamed Kiev for carrying out airstrikes near the crash site.
At the same time, Ukrainian ground forces are pressing forward in the eastern held territories. They claimed two more cities and attacked on the outskirts of the rebel stronghold city of Donetsk.
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