Russian proxy insurgents shoot down Ukrainian military plane, kill 49

Russian proxy insurgents shoot down Ukrainian military plane, kill 49

Pro-Russian separatists shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane early Saturday, killing all 49 people on board, in the deadliest episode of months of unrest in eastern Ukraine.

The Il-76 plane was downed near the government-controlled airport in Luhansk, a region largely in the grasp of the separatists, after coming under fire from heavy machine guns and shoulder-launched missiles, said Ukraine’s Defense Ministry.

The Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office said the 40 military personnel and the nine crew members on board were all killed. …

It also came less than a day after the U.S. said it had confirmed the rebels had acquired tank and missile launchers from Russia and as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization released images it said supported allegations that Russian tanks had entered Ukraine. Russian PresidentVladimir Putin has consistently denied charges that the country has provided arms, ammunition and troops to the rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk.

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The transport aircraft was the second to have been shot down by the separatists, after one was downed on June 6. …

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Mr. Putin on Saturday that she was shocked by the reports of a downed military airplane in Ukraine, according to a German government spokesman. The remarks came in a joint call between Mrs. Merkel, Mr. Putin and French PresidentFrancois Hollande in which the Western leaders urged Mr. Putin to help implement a ceasefire in Ukraine, the German government said.

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