MOSCOW, June 5. /TASS/. Russian air defense forces shot down in the airspace near Odessa a Ukrainian An-26 transport aircraft, which carried armaments and military hardware, Defense Ministry Spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said on Sunday.
"The Russian air defense systems shot down an An-26 transport aircraft of the Ukrainian Air Force near the city of Odessa. The aircraft was transporting armaments and military hardware," he said.
The situation at the line of engagement in Donbass escalated on February 17. The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) reported the most massive bombardments by the Ukrainian military in recent months, which damaged civilian infrastructure and caused civilian casualties.
On February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced recognizing the sovereignty of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Russia signed agreements on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance with their leaders. Russia recognized the Donbass republics in accordance with the DPR and LPR constitutions within the boundaries of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions as of the beginning of 2014.
Russian President Putin said in a televised address on February 24 that in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics he had made a decision to carry out a special military operation in Ukraine. The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories, noting that the operation was aimed at the denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine.
The DPR and the LPR launched an operation to liberate their territories under Kiev’s control.