Kiev blames Moscow for downing of Antonov-26, shot down near Russian border, as all passengers manage to escape safely.
A Ukrainian military transport plane has been shot down along the country’s eastern border with Russia, but all eight people onboard managed to escape safely, the defence ministry has said.
Separatist rebels in conflict-wracked eastern Ukraine claimed responsibility for downing the Antonov-26, but Ukrainian officials blamed Moscow, saying the missile was “probably fired” from Russia.
In the last two weeks, the government has halved the territory in eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russia separatists, who have been forced back into the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk.
Ukraine Defence Minister Valeriy Heletey said the plane was flying at an altitude of about 6,500 metres, which he said was too high to be reached with the weapons used by the separatists.
Rebels are known to have Igla portable surface-to-air missiles, which work up to about 3,500 metres.
Ukraine’s Security Council spokesman Andrei Lysenko said data from the plane’s crew suggested the rocket was either a surface-to-air Pantsir missile or a missile fired by a plane from Russia’s Millerovo Air Force base.
Russian media reported on Sunday that a Ukrainian shell had hit a building in a Russian border town, killing one person and seriously injuring two others.
Ukraine denied that it had fired shells onto foreign soil but President Vladimir Putin expressed “grave concern” over the incident and Russia’s foreign ministry warned there could be “irreversible consequences”.