A Russian plane shot down a Ukrainian jet as it was flying on military operations over east Ukraine, Reuters reports.
Ukrainian military spokesperson Andriy Lysenko confirmed Thursday that a SU-25 warplane was shot down Wednesday evening by a Russian jet.
The allegation is the most vehement to date of Russia directly intervening in the military conflict engulfing east Ukraine. Russia’s defense ministry has refused to respond to the accusation.
Lysenko, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s Defense and Security Council, told journalists the plane was downed by a rocket strike. He added that the pilot ejected without danger.
This is the third incident of a Ukrainian plane being fired upon this week. Last Monday a Russian missile allegedly shot down an An-26 transporter plane. Two of the eight people on board were killed, Kiev said.
On Wednesday, another SU-25 plane was struck by a rebel missile, though the pilot managed to land the plane with little damage. Ukrainian officials don’t suspect Russian involvement.
The conflict in east Ukraine between government forces and separatist rebels has been ongoing for three and a half months, with over 270 Ukrainian servicemen killed. Kiev has accused Russia of assisting the rebels.
On Wednesday U.S. President Barack Obama enforced sanctions on some of Russia’s largest companies, reducing their access to funds. Western governments have accused Russia of failing to help halt the violence.