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Western Analysts Say Russia Behind Ukraine's Destroyed Jets

Two Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jets were shot down over rebel-occupied territory, and Kiev is saying the missiles came from Russia.
Posted at 10:16 PM, Jul 23, 2014

Not even a week after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, the Ukrainian government says pro-Russian separatists have shot down two fighter jets with anti-aircraft missiles fired from Russia's side of the border.

Ukraine's government says a pair of SU-25 fighter jets were shot down by large anti-aircraft systems, while the separatists say they only used shoulder-mounted launchers with a smaller range. (Via Icorpus)

That claim of using smaller missile launcher, according to the government-funded Russian media outlet RT, is why Kiev believes the missile may have come from Russia.

If so, The New York Times says that's further evidence that Russia is supplying insurgents.

And in an interview with Bloomberg, a security expert explained that if the missile did come from Ukrainian territory and not Russia, then it shows that the rebels have "a pretty sophisticated anti-aircraft capacity" which is "one more piece of evidence on the MH17 shoot-down."

Though regarding the issue of whether Russia has given advanced weapons to the separatists, the U.S. Department of Defense has already made up its mind.

In a statement released Wednesday, Army Col. Steve Warren said, "There is no question that the Russians are backing these separatists," citing "a column of over 100 vehicles which included tanks, artillery, [and] multiple launch rocket systems" that were spotted entering Ukraine from Russia last week.

And while its still unclear exactly how or where these two jets were shot down, this latest incident does show one thing: Ukraine's air force is taking a beating.

A Christian Science Monitor article notes that there have been at least 10 instances where Ukrainian military planes were successfully hit by rebels since April. Six of those 10 crashed while the other four managed to land safely. 

Six may not seem like much, but IHS Jane's, a defense analysis group, says Ukraine's air force has suffered from "chronic underinvestment since the country's independence, with the bulk of its inventory either mothballed or otherwise inoperable." So the military needs all the help it can get.

As for the two jets destroyed Wednesday, Ukrainian officials say both pilots managed to parachute out, but further details on their condition have not been released.