A Malaysia Airlines jet has been shot down while flying over Ukraine
A Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down by a surface-to-air missile on Thursday while flying over eastern Ukraine, resulting in the deaths of all 298 people onboard. United States intelligence sources said tracking data from spy satellites and radar confirmed that the Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was hit in midair, but they couldn’t immediately determine where the missile was launched, or who launched it.
The jet was flying over an area of Ukraine that’s under the control of pro-Russian separatists. The rebels have reportedly shot down numerous aircraft in the area over the last few months. Armed with Man-Portable Air Defense 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. There is, as of yet, no conclusive evidence to suggest it was them who shot down the Malaysia Airlines jet, and the pro-Moscow separatists have denied responsibility for shooting down the Malaysian flight
The incident touched off immediate finger-pointing between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian government. Eastern Ukraine separatist leader Alexander Borodai said that Ukrainian military forces shot the jet down, but Kiev denied involvement and labeled the incident a “terrorist act.” According to an adviser to the Ukraine Interior Minister, the Malaysia plane was shot down by a Buk ground-to-air missile system. These systems require additional training to use and are launched from trucks. The AP saw a launch system resembling Buk missiles in the pro-Russian held Ukrainian town of Snizhne early Thursday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukraine bore responsibility for the crash, but he did not address the question of who might have shot it down and didn’t accuse Ukraine of doing so. “This tragedy would not have happened if there were peace on this land, if the military actions had not been renewed in southeast Ukraine,” Putin said, according to a Kremlin statement issued early Friday. “And, certainly, the state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy.”
The White House said President Obama spoke with Ukrainian President Poroshenko Thursday afternoon to discuss the crash and “emphasized that all evidence from the crash site must remain in place on the territory of Ukraine until international investigators are able to examine all aspects of the tragedy.” Read more about this story here.