Ukraine, Russia trade accusations over Black Sea plane

AP News
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Posted: Feb 01, 2017 1:39 PM

MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian navy on Wednesday denied claims that a Ukrainian aircraft came under fire from a Russian-operated gas rig in the Black Sea.

Ukrainian presidential spokesman Svyatoslav Tsegolko said the aircraft was fired upon Wednesday while flying near two offshore gas rigs. He posted a picture on Facebook showing a hole in the plane but added that the crew was not hurt.

Russia's Black Sea Fleet rejected the claim. It said the Ukrainian plane made two "provocatively" low runs over the Russian rigs, and a security officer fired a flare gun four times to drive it away and prevent a crash. It said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies that the flares posed no danger to the plane.

The incident reflects the high tensions between the ex-Soviet neighbors following Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and support for a pro-Russia separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine. It comes amid the worst fighting in months this week around Avdiivka, just north of the main rebel stronghold of Donetsk.

The rigs, which previously had belonged to Ukraine, have caused tensions for a long time. Ukraine has accused Russia of illegally seizing them and said it would demand compensation.