Ukraine observed a national day of mourning on Sunday after the deaths of 49 servicemen. The men were killed on Saturday, when pro-Russian fighters shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane.
A church at the center of Kyiv was filled with throngs of people offering prayers to the dead men. The church serves as a place of both spiritual healing and physical healing, as it has been offering medical assistance to people ever since protests that began earlier this year overthrew pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich.
The Ukrainian government has confirmed that 40 service members and nine crew members died when rebels shot down a Ukrainian Air Force plane. The plane was shot down by a large-caliber machine gun just as it was about to land at Luhansk airport. A surveillance tape from the area shows an explosion near the ground which is believed to be from the plane.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko announced that those responsible for the death of the 49 servicemen would be punished accordingly. The government has said that a criminal investigation has been opened under anti-terrorism laws.
After the events occurred on Saturday, a mob of 300 protestors assaulted the Russian embassy in the Ukraine. The group threw bricks, overturned cars, and yelled slurs towards the embassy. Although acting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia urged the mob to stop, he actually created more of an uproar with some harsh words towards Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Did I say that I am against you protesting? I am for you protesting. I am ready to be here with you and say ‘Russia, get out of Ukraine.’ Yes, Putin is a dickhead, yes,” Deshchytsia said.
His comments drew political fire from Moscow, which urged the Ukrainian government to fire its top diplomats, creating an even more rocky situation as the two nations continue peace talks. It is unsure what will come of these talks, although on Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Russia to stop the flow of tanks and military weapons into Ukraine.