July 18, 2014
by Jerome Sessini
Jerome Sessini has been covering the conflict between the Ukrainian Government and pro-Russian separatist rebels near the eastern border with Russia. Once he'd found out that a civilian passenger airliner had gone down in the region, Sessini made his way to the crash site.
On the afternoon of July 17, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 disintegrated over eastern Ukraine resulting in the death all 298 passengers and crew. That evening US officials announced that they had evidence that the plane had been shot down by a surface-to-air missile of Russian manufacture that had been launched from a region controlled by pro-Russian rebels.
The Ukrainian military has recently launched a new offensive to regain control over rebel-held territory, which has involved use of air-strikes. Prior to July 17th commercial aviation authorities had advised carriers to use routes that would bypass the conflict zone. On July 14th rebels shot down a Ukrainian Air Force transport, killing all 49 military personnel aboard and only hours before Flight 17 was destroyed, a Ukrainian fighter jet had been shot down. The Ukrainian government claims that the Russian military were directly involved in the latter incident.