Ukraine claims plane 'must have been shot down from Russia'

Plane crashed in Ukraine

Transport aircraft brought down by missile as president claims Russian military are in Ukraine

LAST UPDATED AT 12:33 ON Tue 15 Jul 2014

Flight MH17: Malaysia Airlines plane 'shot down' over Ukraine

Ukraine has claimed that one of its military transport aircraft, an An-26 shot down on Monday, was brought down by a missile fired from within Russia. And the country's president, Petro Poroshenko, says Russian army officers are operating inside Ukraine.

The BBC says the claims against Russia could be "a game changer" in the dispute over eastern Ukraine.

Footage of the wrecked plane has appeared online and a statement on the Ukrainian presidency website says the aircraft was hit at an altitude of 21,325ft, which it says means a "more powerful missile" must have been used than anti-government rebels within Ukraine are known to possess.

The statement says that the missile was not shoulder-mounted and was "probably fired" from within neighbouring Russia. Sky News says the eight crew members were all able to bail out and survived the crash.

The plane is said by Ukraine to have been taking part in what it calls "anti-terror" operations in the east of the country. Russia has made no comment on the allegations but has long denied arming or supporting the separatists fighting there.

The Ukraine president's website also alleges that the Russian military has been sending officers to fight alongside rebels within eastern parts of Ukraine - and that a newly-developed Russian missile system has been used against Ukrainian forces in the last three days.

Meanwhile, Nato has reported a Russian troop build-up taking place near the Ukrainian border, a significant increase bringing the number of personnel stationed there up to 12,000.

The Guardian reports that Ukrainian forces launched a fresh offensive on Sunday night at Luhansk, attempting to reach troops besieged for more than a month at the city's airport. The paper says both sides fired heavy artillery fire all night - with a pause to watch the World Cup final. · 

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