DONETSK, July 17, /ITAR-TASS/. The leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) said they were ready to allow international specialists to investigate the crash of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing-777 passenger plane in Ukraine, DNR parliament speaker Denis Pushilin told ITAR-TASS.
“We are ready to let an international commission in for a more thorough and faster investigation of the tragedy,” he said.
"We are determined to think that this was done by the Ukrainian armed forces," Pushilin said.
Besides, he confirmed that the DPR leadership was ready to allow the international experts to conduct "an elaborate and immediate investigation of the air crash in Ukraine's east."
"We are ready to let the international commission into our territory to look into the tragedy more thoroughly and promptly," he said.
"This is in our interests as we do not feel guilty," Pushilin said adding that "we have neither radio location stations nor specialists.'
The DNR prime minister’s spokesperson Sergei Kavtaradze said “militias have no weapons that could have shot down a plane at an altitude of 10,000 metres. We have man-portable air defense systems which can shoot down at altitudes no more than 3-4 kilometres”.
DNR Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Purgin said militias had no radars and therefore could not track planes.
“Let me say that Ukraine declared the south-east a no-fly zone several days ago. And every day they were saying that they were registering some drones or spy planes. Naturally, they wanted to shoot down such a plane to prove Russia’s role in the conflict. Having seen some plane on the radar screen they might have shot it down. So it seems like a provocation,” Purgin said.
Alexander Neradko, head of Russia’s Federal Agency for Air Transportation, said the plane had been in the area controlled by the Dnepropetrovsk air traffic control centre at the time of the accident. “The plane did not contact air traffic controllers in Rostov and was under the responsibility of the Dnepropetrovsk centre. Ukraine is responsible for the plane,” he said.
Neradko said Ukraine had to track the plane and then pass it over to the Rostov centre.
His Ukrainian colleague Dmitry Babeichuk said the Boeing had been flying in Ukraine’s airspace smoothly under the control of the Dnepropetrovsk centre.
When asked whether the routes of the Boeing and President Vladimir Putin’s plane returning from Latin America could have overlapped, Neradko said his agency never commented on such issues.
“We never comment on the routes and other details of the flights of the president of Russia and other top officials of our country and other states,” he said.
The plane en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in Ukraine 60 km from the Russian border and as many as 300 people aboard are presumed to be dead.
The plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 km and was supposed to enter Russia’s airspace at 17:20 Moscow time. Malaysian Airlines confirmed that it had lost contact with the plane over Ukraine.
A source in the Russian Federal Agency for Air Transportation said the plane’s crew had not contacted Russian air traffic controllers. The plane was supposed to fly through Ukraine and Russia.
Ukraine’s air navigation service said there were 280 people and 15 crewmembers aboard the plane.
A source in the aviation circles told ITAR-TASS that up to 300 people could have been travelling by that flight. “It crashed 60 km from the border. Its emergency locator beacon sent a signal,” the official said.