(KIEV, Ukraine) — Two Ukrainian military jets were shot down Wednesay according to Ukrainian defense officials who charged that they were downed by missiles fired from the Russian side of the border.
The planes, identified as Sukhoi SU-25 fighter jets, were hit in the Donetsk region of the country not far from where the Malaysian Airlines flight 17 was knocked out of the sky last week. It is also where Ukrainian forces are battling separatist rebels outside the city of Donetsk, one of the last separatist strongholds.
The fate of the planes’ pilots was not immediately known.
It happened at 12:30 p.m. Ukraine time (5:30 a.m. ET) while the planes were flying at roughly 6,000 feet, said a spokesperson for the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council.
The spokesman said missiles were fired from Russian territory and repeated himself saying, “from across the border” in Russia.
The Ukrainian rebels are ethnic Russians and the U.S. and other Western countries have accused Russia of fomenting instability in Ukraine and aiding the rebels by supplying weaponry and volunteers.
The Sukhoi SU-25 are single seat combat fighter jets. That same type of jet was shot down by a missile July 16.
The shoot-down of the jets over the town of Saur Mogila came in the same rebellious eastern part of the country where MH17 was shot down, killing 298 people on board. The MH17 flight was believed to have been shot down by a BUK anti-aircraft missile system.
Shortly before word of Wednesday’s shoot-down came, the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt told ABC News that he’s very concerned Russia has not stopped the flow of heavy weapons into eastern Ukraine where ethnic Russians are trying to break away from Ukraine.
Fighting is currently taking place on the outskirts of Donetsk, one of the separatists last strongholds.
“We are very concerned that Russia has not pulled back on the flow of heavy weapons,” Pyatt said. “What needs to happen is Russia needs to stop sending weapons and fighters across the border.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Ralph Ellis and Steve Almasy, CNN
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