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MOSCOW, July 21. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian air data records indicate that a Ukrainian Su-25 warplane might have been flying towards the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 passenger plane on the day when it crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17, Lieutenant-General Andrei Kartapolov, head of the Main Operations Department of the Russian Army General Staff, said at a news conference on Monday, July 21.
“Records show that the Ukrainian Air Force plane ascended to the distance of 3-5 km from the Malaysian Boeing,” he said. “The Su-25 can fly at altitudes of up to 10 km. It is armed with P-60 air-to-air missiles that can hit targets at a distance of up to 12 km and reliably within 5 km.”
“This is borne out by the video footage obtained by the Rostov monitoring center. We would like to know why the Ukrainian plane was flying along a civilian route on the same flight path as the Malaysian Boeing,” Kartapolov said.
The Boeing began losing speed 51 km from border with Russia, Rostov air traffic controllers said.
Satellite imgaes of Ukrainian air defense systems
The Russian Defense Ministry has satellite images showing the position of Ukrainian air defense systems before the crash of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 passenger plane in eastern Ukraine on July 17, Kartapolov noted. “We have satellite images of certain Ukrainian army air defenae systems in the south-east of the country,” he said.
Kartapolov said that the three images were dated July 14. “The first image shows Buk air defense systems stationed 8 km north-west of Luhansk. It clearly shows a self-propelled system and two launching and loading machines,” he added.
Another image shows radar stations near Donetsk. Air defense systems near Donetsk appear on a third image, including a self-propelled firing unit and about 60 pieces of military and special hardware, Kartapolov said.
“Images of the same area were also taken on July 17, but the launching system is absent now. Image No. 5 shows that a Buk system was deployed in the area of Zaroshchinskoye, 50 km east of Donetsk and 8 km south of Shakhtersk, in the morning of the same day,” the general said.
“The question is why the system happened to be near the area controlled by militiamen shortly before the tragedy? Images of the area taken on July 18 show that the system was no longer there,” Kartapolov said.
He also stressed that the intensity of Ukrainian Buk radar stations had increased before July 17.
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing-777 passenger plane en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine.