Rebels in Eastern Ukraine Shoot Missile at Military Jet, Killing 49 People

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 14 2014 12:41 PM

Rebels in Eastern Ukraine Shoot Missile at Military Jet, Killing 49 People

Par7907495
Pro-Russian militants look through the debris of an IL-76 Ukrainian military transporter which was taken down by pro-Russian rebels

Photo by DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images

A week after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko talked about a peace plan during his inaugural address, government forces suffered the biggest death toll in a single incident during the four-month conflict. Nine crew members and 40 paratroopers were killed when pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine used a shoulder-fired missile to take down a military transport jet that was getting ready to land at an airport in the city of Luhansk, reports the New York Times. Poroshenko quickly labeled the attack an act of terrorism, and vowed an “adequate” response. The incident illustrates just how far the government is from pacifying the eastern part of the country, notes the Associated Press.

Later, the Ukrainian military launched air strikes against areas controlled by the pro-Russian separatists, reports Al Jazeera. "It's a very dangerous development here," says Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Luhansk. "Separatists in Luhansk are very much in control of the city, and they say that they are going to meet this attack with everything that they have got."

Advertisement

The United States quickly emphasized its support for Kiev. "We condemn the shooting down of the Ukrainian military plane and continue to be deeply concerned about the situation in eastern Ukraine, including by the fact that militant and separatist groups have received heavy weapons from Russia, including tanks, which is a significant escalation," said White House spokeswoman Laura Lucas Magnuson.

Analysts were quick to say the large death toll could bring about a new effort to increase sanctions on Russia if there is evidence that Moscow is sending heavy weapons to the rebels, notes Reuters. A day earlier, the State Department said it believed rebels had “acquired heavy weapons and military equipment from Russia, including Russian tanks and multiple rocket launchers,” reports the Guardian. Even if the evidence isn’t clear-cut, the pressure could still increase for new sanctions because it "will refocus attention on the fact that Russia does not seem to be doing very much to moderate the insurgency (or) the cross-border resupply of separatists," an analyst tells the Associated Press.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.