TIME eastern Ukraine

Ukrainian Pilots Missing After 2 Jets Shot Down in East

Two Ukrainian military jets shot down
A file picture dated September 17, 2007 shows Ukrainian Su-25 attack planes during manoeuvres at the landfill in Rovno, Ukraine. Pro-Russian separatists have shot down two Ukrainian military jets in the east of the country, Defence Ministry spokesman Oleksiy Dmytrashkivskiy said on July 23, 2014. Sergey Popsuevich—EPA

Both pilots ejected safely but their whereabouts are unknown

Pro-Russia separatist rebels shot down two Ukrainian military planes over eastern Ukraine Wednesday, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s National Defense and Security Council told TIME. Both pilots ejected from their aircraft but remain missing.

An aide to separatist leader Alexander Borodai, told CNN that the two jets had been shot down by rebel fighters using a shoulder-fired missile system. However, Yarema Dukh, the Council’s press secretary, says that the jets were shot down from an altitude of 17,000 feet, an altitude she says is too high for those systems to reach. The aircrafts’ altitude, Dukh says, is instead a sign that “the planes may have been shot down by another plane.”

On top of that, though, it’s widely believed that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a Boeing 777 which crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17, was shot down by a surface-to-air missile, which most likely originated from rebel-controlled territory. Flight 17 was traveling at 33,000 feet at the time of the suspected shoot-down — much higher than the Ukrainian jets.

The two jets shot down Wednesday, both Soviet-built Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft, were among four fighter planes returning to base after supporting Ukrainian government forces along the Russia-Ukraine border, the Council said in a press conference Wednesday. They were hit over the Savur Mogila area close to the border around 1:30 p.m. local time.

The Ukrainian aircraft were flying in the same area as where Flight 17 crashed, killing all 298 people on board. On Wednesday, 40 of the 200 MH17 passengers’ bodies thus far recovered arrived in the Netherlands for identification. The flight’s two black boxes also safely reached investigators in Britain Wednesday.

In the days before the MH17 disaster, a Ukrainian An-26 transport plane and another Su-25 jet were also shot down. A second Su-25 was fired upon, but the pilot managed to land his plane with minimal damage.

TIME Flight MH17

Ukraine Says 2 Military Jets Shot Down Over East

As UK investigators began analysis of MH17 black boxes, and the bodies of Dutch victims were flown home

Ukraine said that two of its fighter jets were shot down Wednesday over eastern Ukraine, the Associated Press reports, less than a week after a passenger jet was downed in the same region. The news came as the two black boxes from the downed MH17 jet arrived in Britain and 40 of the recovered 200 bodies were being flown to the Netherlands.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that two of its military fighter jets were downed over eastern Ukraine. The two jets, both Sukhoi-25 planes, were shot down at 1:30pm local time over the Savur Mogila area. It is not yet known whether those on board have survived. A spokesperson for the ministry said the planes could have been carrying up to two people each.

Whilst the Ukrainian government tries to ascertain what has happened, the U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch has begun to investigate the two flight recorders from flight MH17, the BBC reports, which were handed over to Malaysian experts by Ukrainian rebels late Monday.

Aviation experts from the organization will try to download data from the black boxes in accordance with a request from Dutch authorities heading up the investigation. The data should be downloaded within the next two days and will then be sent to the Dutch investigators. It is hoped that the flight recorders will be able to confirm whether a missile hit flight MH17.

The black boxes’ arrival comes as the first 40 bodies of the 298 victims were being flown to Eindhoven in the Netherlands. It is expected that they will arrive at 4pm local time.

They will be met by members of the Dutch royal family and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as part of a national day of mourning for the deceased. 193 of the 298 passengers onboard flight MH17 were Dutch nationals.

All 200 of the recovered bodies arrived in Kharkiv, Ukraine in a refrigerated train carriage Tuesday, following repeated international demands for their safe return.

Following a solemn ceremony attended by ambassadors, soldiers and officials, 40 coffins were loaded onto two military planes bound directly for Eindhoven. They will then be taken to barracks south of Hilversum for identification. Rutte has warned, however, that this could take months.

Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17. All 298 people on board were killed. Washington said Wednesday that they had clear evidence the plane was downed by an SA-11 missile “fired from eastern Ukraine under conditions the Russians helped create.”

[BBC]

TIME U.K.

Racehorse Owned by Britain’s Queen Fails Dope Test

Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Anne
Queen Elizabeth II, with Princess Anne, greet her horse Estimate on June 20, 2013 Alastair Grant—AP

Buckingham Palace said early indications suggest that Estimate consumed morphine as a result of contaminated feed

(LONDON) — A racehorse owned by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II that won the prestigious Gold Cup at Royal Ascot last year has tested positive for the banned painkiller, morphine.

The British Horseracing Authority announced last week that tests on five horses under the care of various trainers showed the presence of morphine in their ‘A’ samples.

On Tuesday, the queen’s bloodstock and racing adviser, John Warren, said that the monarch’s five-year-old filly Estimate was one of the five.

Buckingham Palace said that early indications suggest that Estimate consumed the substance as a result of contaminated feed.

Warren said in a statement that Estimate’s trainer Michael Stoute “is working closely with the feed company involved to discover how the product may have become contaminated prior to delivery to his stables.”

Estimate finished second in this year’s Gold Cup behind Leading Light.

Warren added: “Her Majesty has been informed of the situation.”

Previously, Britain’s most publicized case of a horse testing positive for morphine was Be My Royal after he had won the 2002 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury. The horse was subsequently disqualified.

TIME Russia sanctions

Flight MH17: Europe Unlikely to Enforce Tougher Sanctions on Russia

Analysts say the European Union is unlikely to go beyond sanctioning individuals

On Tuesday, European Union (E.U.) foreign ministers will meet to discuss increasing sanctions against Russia following the downing of flight MH17. The U.S. has blamed the incident on separatist rebels who, it claims, shot the plane down using weapons supplied to them by Moscow.

The meeting will be the bloc’s first opportunity to discuss the tragedy which took the lives of 298 people, the majority of whom were from countries within the E.U.

In March, the E.U. and the U.S. imposed sanctions against Russia for Moscow’s involvement in the Ukrainian conflict. These were tightened July 16, the day before flight MH17 was shot down.

The E.U. has enforced “tier two” sanctions which affect individuals by freezing their assets and banning them from traveling. So far, 72 Russian politicians and aides of Putin have been affected. However, with the U.S. having imposed sanctions against Russia’s biggest companies, including state oil company Rosneft, there is pressure on the E.U. to match these “tier three” sanctions that go beyond individuals. But, despite U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron calling for tier three sanctions on Monday, analysts remain skeptical.

“I think that it’s highly unlikely at this stage that the E.U. is planning anything further than individual sanctions,” says William E. Pomeranz, Deputy Director at the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies. “The EU has a much more substantial trade relationship with Russia than the U.S. does, it has a heavy reliance on Russian gas.”

Jonathan Eyal, International Director at the Royal United Services Institute, echoes his sentiment. Eyal told TIME: “The Russia of today is not the Soviet Union of the Cold War. It is very deeply integrated into the economies of Europe particularly in terms of energy resources.”

Despite Cameron’s bluster, he will be painfully aware of this. In March of last year, British oil and gas giant BP bought shares worth close to 20% in Rosneft, the state-backed Russian oil and gas giant.

Eyal refers to a “disgraceful competition” within the E.U. that’s preventing a firm response towards Russia. According to Eyal, Britain is worried about the effect sanctions will have on London’s financial district. France fears damaging its impending sale of two warships to the Russian navy, whilst in Germany, there are concerns about jobs linked to Berlin’s trade with Russia. “This leads to the lowest common denominator being sought in sanctions,” Eyal notes.

Economic interdependence isn’t the only reason for Europe’s weak sanctions. “The legacy of the financial crisis has left some European countries feeling vulnerable,” comments Jeffrey Mankoff, deputy director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Russia and Eurasia program. “They have less appetite to do something that will lead to economic disruption.”

Even for European countries that have pulled through the 2008 financial disaster, Russia’s immediate presence can be a significant deterrent. “Geography always plays an important role in international relations,” states Pomeranz. “Obviously the E.U. has to be mindful of its neighbors.”

Meanwhile, Washington also seems unwilling to push Moscow too far. And if Washington isn’t prepared to lead, it’s unlikely Europe will follow. “Europe has always been a free rider on the back of the U.S.,” says Eyal.

Mankoff shares his view, adding: “U.S. leadership on [sanctions] has been relatively lacking so far. And because it’s been lacking it’s been relatively easy for the Europeans to drag their feet.”

Were the U.S. to challenge Russia more directly, there is no guarantee, however, that Europe would follow suit. Constrained by trade relations, geography and shaky economies, Europe is both unwilling and unable to risk poking the Russian bear.

TIME U.K.

British PM David Cameron Culls Old Men for New Women in Cabinet Reshuffle

Britain's Prime Minister Cameron arrives to officially open the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow in Farnborough
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron arrives to officially open the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow, in southern England, on July 14, 2014 Kieran Doherty—Reuters

The move is seen as an attempt to diversify the ruling Conservative Party's image ahead of next year's general elections

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has shaken up his Cabinet in what is being seen as a bid to freshen the image of the ruling Conservative Party ahead of next year’s polls.

The ousted ministers are men, middle-aged and white — the so-called male, pale and stale. Their replacements are likely to be selected from several female MPs tipped for Cabinet roles.

The BBC’s political correspondent Chris Mason said that Britons could expect “more ministers who are women and more ministers with regional accents, in more prominent roles,” in an attempt to improve the diversity of Team Cameron.

However, opposition figures say the reshuffle is a ploy to oust centrist figures. Michael Dugher, a Labour MP, said, “Four years of failure to promote women and now we have the massacre of the moderates.”

Monday’s most significant departures came from William Hague, who resigned as Foreign Secretary, and Ken Clarke, a veteran of two previous Conservative governments.

[BBC]

TIME Aviation

France Beefs Up Security on Flights to U.S.

France Airport Security
A French soldier stands in front of the desk of American airline company 'Delta Air Lines' in Nice airport, south eastern France, July 4, 2014. Lionel Cironneau—AP

Amid terrorism concerns

France is ramping up security measures on all outgoing flights to the U.S. following terrorism warnings.

“At the request of American authorities, security measures at airports for flights bound to the United States have been increased for the summer period,” the French Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement Friday.

American authorities said Wednesday that they’re concerned al-Qaeda might be developing a new kind of bomb that could be smuggled onto planes. The Obama Administration told foreign airports with direct flights to the U.S. to increase their security measures.

The French agency warned that delays are possible and recommended all passengers flying to the U.S. arrive early. The move follows British airports agreeing to increase airport security Thursday.

France has not elaborated on the measures it intends to implement.

 

TIME U.K.

Former British Tabloid Editor to Face Retrial in Hacking Case

After conviction for conspiracy

The former editor of the now-defunct British tabloid the News of the World will be re-tried for allegedly buying royal telephone numbers from police after he was already found guilty last week of conspiracy in the hacking case that has consumed the British media world.

Andy Coulson, the former editor who resigned as Prime Minister David Cameron’s communications director in 2011, is due to stand trial for conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office, BBC reports. Coulson is accused of paying police officers for royal telephone directories. Coulson was found guilty last week of conspiring to hack phones from 2000 to 2006; he was the paper’s editor from 2003 to 2007.

The jurors who convicted him of the conspiracy charge failed to reach a verdict on whether he committed misconduct by allegedly paying police officers for the phone books. Coulson is due to be sentenced later this week for the phone hacking conviction. He faces a maximum of two years in prison.

[BBC]

TIME United Kingdom

London Is a Worse Nitrogen Dioxide Polluter Than Beijing

A general view through smog of the Canary Wharf financial district on April 2, 2014 in London.
A general view through smog of the Canary Wharf financial district on April 2, 2014 in London. Dan Kitwood—Getty Images

An E.U.-mandated shift to diesel cars has sent London's NO2 emissions through the roof. "It's a public-health catastrophe," says one prominent campaigner

British tabloids may lash out at Chinese smog all they want, but when it comes to one important pollution indicator, the U.K. capital actually outpollutes even Beijing.

A European Union–wide shift to diesel, in order to curb CO2 emissions, has sent London’s nitrogen dioxide levels through the roof, Bloomberg reports. Not only are they the worst in Europe, reaching twice the E.U. limit, they also surpass the Chinese capital’s by a whopping 50%.

“Successive governments knew more than 10 years ago that diesel was producing all these harmful pollutants, but they myopically plowed on with their CO2 agenda,” Simon Birkett, founder of the nonprofit Clean Air in London, told Bloomberg. “It’s a public-health catastrophe.”

In 2000, the E.U. drew up rules allowing diesel cars to discharge more than three times the amount of nitrogen dioxide than those using gasoline.

“We’re stuck now with these diesel cars,” says Matthew Pencharz, the environment and energy adviser to the mayor of London. “About half our cars are diesel, whereas 10 or 15 years ago it was lower than 10%.”

Nitrogen dioxide irritates the lungs, increasing susceptibility to respiratory infections. In China, efforts are mostly focused on other pollutants, such as PM10, levels of which almost triple those in London.

[Bloomberg]

TIME U.K.

Did Prince Charles Compare Putin to Hitler? Royal Spokesperson Won’t Say

“And now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler," the prince was reported to have said during a private reception that turned out to be not so private after all

+ READ ARTICLE

A royal spokesperson refused Wednesday to confirm or deny reports that Prince Charles likened Russian President Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler during a private reception this week with World War II veterans in Canada.

The Guardian reports that Prince Charles reportedly made the comparison in the course of a private conversation with Marienne Ferguson, a Jewish museum volunteer who related the story of her family’s escape from Nazi persecution.

“And now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler,” Prince Charles responded, according to the Daily Mail.

A royal spokesperson refused to confirm or deny the report, arguing that private conversations, even among royal family members, are still private. “We would not comment on private conversations,” he said.

Incendiary as the historical comparison may be, Ferguson told the Daily Mail she agrees with the comment and appreciated the Prince’s unguarded sincerity. “I was very surprised that he made the comment as I know they [members of the royal family] aren’t meant to say these things but it was very heartfelt and honest.”

TIME U.K.

British Charity Sees Rise in Afghanistan Vets Seeking Mental Health Help

A U.K. veterans mental health charity reported a 57% increase over one year in Afghanistan veterans seeking support

The number of British veterans of the war in Afghanistan seeking help for mental health issues increased sharply from 2012 to 2013, a charity group said Monday, warning that need would continue to rise as the country ends its involvement in the war.

Combat Stress, a U.K. veterans mental health charity, said the number of veterans seeking its help went up 57% in the course of a year. The group received referrals for 358 veterans last year, compared to 228 in 2012. Its caseload now includes more than 660 veterans. The increase is linked to the withdrawal of British troops in Afghanistan from all but two bases in Helmand province.

The charity said it found that veterans wait an average of 13 years after serving before seeking help, but the average time has now fallen to 18 months for Afghanistan veterans. Combat Stress also reported that their total caseload of 5,400 veterans across the country was the highest number in its 95-year history.

“We have had great support from the Government and the public over recent years and we simply could not operate without the generosity we have experienced, ” said Commodore Andrew Cameron, chief executive of Combat Stress. “We cannot allow the ex-Service men and women who suffer from the invisible injuries of war to go unnoticed and untreated.”

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