Pro-Russians Shoot Down Plane in Luhansk, Kill 49 Ukraine Servicemen
Pro-Russians forces shot down a Ukrainian military plane in Luhansk, killing 49 servicemen.
"Overnight on June 13 and 14, terrorists cynically and treacherously shot the IL-76, transportation air carrier of Ukrainian Air Force as it was approaching the land of Luhansk airport. Terrorists used an anti-aircraft installation and heavy machine gun," said the Defense Ministry.
"On board [the cargo plane] were military personnel, machinery, equipment and supplies," the Defense Ministry continued. "Supervisors of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and command of the Air Force of Ukraine express sincere condolences to the parents, relatives and friends of soldiers in connection with the tragic loss."
A total of 115 servicemen have been killed since the anti-terrorist operation in east Ukraine started in April. Former Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko told The Kyiv Post, “40 of the servicemen killed were paratroopers from the 25th Dnipropetrovsk air brigade and nine were crew members from the Melitopil-based transport brigade.”
The “Luhansk People’s Republic” claimed responsibility for shooting down the plane.
"The plane was shot down by militia. (Ukrainian side) violated (LNR leader Valeriy) Bolotov's decree about closed air space over Luhansk. The document implied relevant measures for violating it," LPR spokeswoman Oksana Chgryna told Radio Liberty.
Luhansk, along with Donetsk, held a referendum on May 11, and the leaders claimed over 90% of the residents voted for independence, despite numerous voting violations. Ukraine and the West do not recognize the results of the referendum.
President Petro Poroshenko said those involved will be punished and declared Sunday a day of mourning.
"I declare Sunday a day of mourning for our military men. This is a great loss not only for their families but for the entire country. Ukraine is bewailing, but we continue to vigorously fight for peace," he said. "All those involved in the cynical act of terrorism of this magnitude will be punished. Ukraine needs peace. Terrorists will receive an adequate response.”