Ukrainians Worried About Safety Following Plane Attack


UPDATED: Friday July 18, 2014 12:37 AM

Central Ohioans with connections to Ukraine are wondering what Thursday's Malaysia Airlines passenger jet crash there will mean for that volatile area of the globe.

A U.S. official says American intelligence authorities believe a surface-to-air missile took down the jet carrying 298 people in eastern Ukraine.

The incident led to finger-pointing between Russian separatists and the Ukrainian government.

Ukraine blames the missile attack on pro-Russian separatists who deny involvement.

The U.S. is analyzing the missile's trajectory to find out where it was fired and by whom.

Ukraine's U.N. ambassador blames Russia for giving rebels the missile.

A Ukrainian journalist who spent some time studying in Columbus in 2011 tells 10TV that many people in Ukraine are concerned the plane crash controversy could escalate into something bigger.

"It's really a big tragedy," said Andrey Dihtyarenko.

He says he was in Kiev when his cell phone alerted him to the plane crash.

The Ukrainian journalist tells 10TV he was living in Lugansk in eastern Ukraine, but relocated to Kiev because he didn't feel safe.

"It was very dangerous for us Ukranian journalists, even Lugansk journalists, to stay and work there," he said.

Dihtyarenko says he is concerned the crash could lead to an even bigger conflict in the region.

"Maybe (it) will start (a) big war," he said.

The possibility of a bigger conflict is a concern shared by Retired Navy Commander Rudy Hightower from the John Glenn Center at Ohio State.

"This kind of escalation is like an avalanche," Hightower said. "Once it starts, that's it."

Hightower says he has gone to Ukraine about a dozen times doing research and taking OSU students for study abroad trips.

He is no stranger to the flight path Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 took before it was shot down.

"I've flown out of Amsterdam going to Kiev 6 to 8 times," he said.

Hightower says the intelligence community will be working long hours to determine who fired the missile.

"We've got to find out exactly what happened," he said.

While intelligence experts investigate, Ukraine citizens like Dihtyarenko are left wondering where things will go from here.

"What will be next?" he asked.

Hightower says to pay attention to what The Netherlands does.

He says major powers like the US and China may urge restraint, but the Netherlands could see this plane crash as "terrorist event" similar to 9-11.

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