Ambush Near MH17 Kills Ukrainian Soldiers

What Ukraine's military calls an apparent ambush by pro-Russian separatists highlights the fragile cease-fire immediately surrounding MH17's wreckage.

Ambush Near MH17 Kills Ukrainian Soldiers
Getty Images

A fragile and very small bubble of peace surrounds the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. (Via Getty Images)

Ukraine's military announced Friday just how small that bubble was, saying its soldiers were ambushed near the site.

AL JAZEERA ANCHOR: "Twenty-one Ukrainian soldiers are reported to have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine after an ambush by pro-Russian separatists. Meanwhile, more Dutch and Australian investigators have now reached the MH17 crash site."

Just how many soldiers died isn't clear. BBC noted while Ukraine's military confirmed 10 deaths, Ukrainian media are reporting closer to 20 soldiers died.

All this as a full team of investigators finally reached the crash site two weeks after MH17 was presumably shot down over the embattled country, killing nearly 300 people. (Via BBC)

In a countryside constantly fought over by Ukraine's military and pro-Russian militants like these, investigators' access to the site stalled while the two sides brokered a protected zone around the crash site and a path to get there. (Via Getty Images, Getty Images)

​​KELLIE MORGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: "But this, we do have to remember, is a battle zone and the separatists themselves are a splintered group, so it is a day-by-day assessment on how safe it is to access the site."

Blame for the crash still draws intense finger pointing with Ukraine and the U.S. saying a Russian-made missile system downed MH17, but Russia and the militants deny any involvement.

With both bodies and evidence exposed to the elements for weeks, investigators' limited access to the site has created an air of who's-hiding-what tension. (Via Getty Images)

One of the investigators from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe says the site, especially the cockpit, changed dramatically in the days he had access to the site. (Via Getty Images)

MICHAEL BOCIURKIW, OSCE INVESTIGATOR: "It was pretty much intact. Over the days, we have seen that piece of cockpit sort of spread out like this. Day Two, I believe it was, there were actually men in uniform hacking into it with a powersaw." (Via CBC)

Despite that soundbite, that same investigator told NPR Thursday the site remains "more or less the way we saw it" a week prior. The apparent ambush on Ukrainian soldiers happened Thursday night in the nearby city of Shakhtarsk. (Via Getty Images)