Separatists have shot down a Ukrainian fighter plane amid fighting between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian government forces in the eastern part of the country, a Ukrainian military spokesman said today. Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky said that the plane was shot down over the Luhansk region after launching an attack on rebels. The pilot ejected and was taken to a secure place, he said. The latest fighting comes as a Russian aid convoy sits on the Ukrainian border awaiting clearance to bring supplies to suffering civilians. The International Committee of the Red Cross yesterday said the main holdup was a lack of security guarantees from all sides.
Although the rebels have lost significant ground to Ukrainian forces in recent weeks, the downing of the fighter jet showed they retain substantial firepower. In a video posted online this weekend, the leader of the self-proclaimed rebel government in Donetsk, Alexander Zakharchenko, was seen saying new military equipment was on its way from Russia. He said the shipment included tanks and some 1,200 fighters. As fighting continued, the foreign minister of Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France were expected to meet in Berlin today over the crisis.