Fears of World War 3 have been sparked after a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down Thursday in Ukranian airspace.
The plane went down Thursday over the village of Torez, about 25 miles from the cit of Donetsk. All 280 passengers and 15 crew members aboard the plane have been killed, officials say.
The official cause of the crash is still under investigation, but Ukraine’s interior minister wrote on Facebook that it was shot down a Buk anti-aircraft missile system launched by Ukrainian rebels. The crash took place within territory held by pro-Russia separatist rebels.
Ukrainian rebels are deflecting blame, saying that the Malaysia Airlines plane was instead shot down by the Ukrainian government. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko denies the charge.
“We do not exclude that this plane was shot down, and we stress that the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not take action against any airborne targets,” Poroshenko said in a statement. “We are sure that those who are guilty in this tragedy will be held responsible.”
Ukrainian Interior Minister Anton Herashenko said he had proof that separatists were responsible for the crash, including video that shows “some jerks were shouting: Look, how wonderful it is burning! Beautiful!”
Herashenko also called on other nations to take action, sparking fears among some that the crisis could blossom into World War 3.
“Europe, Canada, the USA, the civilized world — open your eyes! Help us with everything you can!” he pleaded.
Ukrainian rebels have been blamed for two strikes against aircraft this week. On Wednesday rebels reportedly struck two Ukrainian Su-25 jets.
So far the Malaysian government has been tempered in its response to the tragedy, not yet addressing reports that it was shot down.
“I am shocked by reports that an MH plane crashed. We are launching an immediate investigation,” says Malaysian Prime Minister Mohd Najib Tun Razak, in a tweet.
If it turns out that the Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down, it would represent the largest action yet during the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the first major expansion beyond the two countries. It would also likely spark an international response, though whether it would evolve into World War 3 remains to be seen.