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MH17 plane crash latest: What you need to know about Russian claims

by in news

Four days after a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet crashed in eastern Ukraine, the international community and the families of the 298 people on board who died are no closer to learning what happened.

The government in Kiev and the west believes pro-Russian rebels brought down the Boeing 777 with a SA-11 Buk anti-aircraft missile supplied by Moscow.

But on Monday Russia desperately tried to shift the narrative away from one that ultimately lays the blame at the door of Vladimir Putin for emboldening and in some cases actively supporting pro-Russian fighters.

The Russian claims

At a defence ministry briefing, army officials denied that rebels were responsible for bringing down the airliner, instead presenting evidence they said suggested Ukraine's air force was to blame.

Lieutenant-General Igor Makushev told a news briefing in Moscow - accompanied by an English translation - that:

  • Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jets had flown within 3km and 5km (2 to 3 miles) of the Malaysian Airlines jet prior to it crashing.

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  • Russia did not supply the rebels with or train them how to use SA-11 Buk antiaircraft missiles.

  • If the US has evidence to the contrary it should produce the relevant satellite images.

  • It was actually the Ukrainian army that deployed similar Buk-M1 missiles near Donetsk on the day of the crash.

Watch the full press conference:


The Ukrainian and western response

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko flatly denied Russia's claims, specifically the assertion that a military plane flew within 3km to 5km of MH17.

"My immediate reaction - this is not true," he told CNN.

"Everybody knows that in this period of time when the tragedy happened all Ukrainian planes were on the ground (in the area)."

Giving a news conference after the Russian briefing, US president Barack Obama accused the militia of removing evidence from the crash site, near Hrabove in the Donetsk oblast.

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Speaking at the White House, he told journalists that his Russian counterpart Mr Putin had to "pivot away" from the narrative that anyone other than pro-Russian fighters were to blame.

Speaking in the Commons, UK prime minister David Cameron insisted that Ukraine had no missile systems in range at the time that MH17 crashed, and in addition had not fired any such missiles during the insurgency.

Where that leaves us

No closer to the truth, unfortunately.

Malaysia has said it expects to receive the black box from MH17 later today, while a train carrying the bodies of the victims in refrigerated carriages has left the town of Torez for an unknown location.


More on MH17:

Heartbreaking quotes from MH17 relatives

Why Europe is reluctant to impose harsher sanctions on Russia

Here is all the evidence against seperatists and Russian backers

Sky News presenter rummages through luggage of MH17 victim on live TV

Impotent or complicit? Putin's dilemma over MH17

Should newspapers show the true graphic images of a tragedy like MH17?

Rebel commander: We shot down a civilian aircraft

The couple and baby who narrowly missed getting on board flight MH 17

Pro-Russian separatist's online boasts about shooting down plane



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