On Monday, somebody shot down a Ukrainian military An-26 transport plane carrying food and water to Ukrainian troops trying to rout the pro-Moscow separatists gathered in their strongholds of Luhansk and Donetsk. The separatists claimed responsibility for the downing of the plane and said they captured four crew members, but Ukraine reportedly says it has "undisputed proof" that Russia was involved.
The airplane was flying at more than 21,000 feet, Ukraine says, putting it out of the reach of the shoulder-fired rockets the separatists have used so far. Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey said that the plane had been "downed by another, more powerful missile that probably was launched from the territory of the Russian Federation," either from a surface-to-air system or a Russian jet. Russia, for its part, is threatening Ukraine with "irreversible consequences" for an artillery round that fell in Russian territory, killing a civilian.
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NATO says that Russia has been slowly increasing its troop levels near the Ukraine border, with up to 12,000 troops in the area, from about 1,000 in mid-June. The U.S. is also accusing Russia of sending heavy weapons and military personnel to help lead the separatists in their battle against Kiev. "While Russia says it seeks peace, its actions do not match its rhetoric," the U.S. government said in a statement.
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