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Versions of MH17 crash in Ukraine's Donetsk region

The investigation is underway, and experts are examining the black boxes
At the crash site EPA/ ROBERT GHEMENT
At the crash site

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in Ukraine’s Donetsk region on July 17. All 298 people onboard died in the crash.

Connection with Flight MH17 plane was lost when the airliner was about 50km from the Russian-Ukrainian border. The Malaysian government has demanded that a full-scale international investigation be carried out to determine the causes of the tragedy.

Among the people onboard the crashed Boeing were 193 Dutch nationals, 43 Malaysians and 10 Britons.

The investigation is underway, and experts are examining the black boxes. Investigators consider several possible causes of the airplane’s crash. One of the main theories is that the Boeing was hit by a surface-to-air missile.

Plane shot down

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak said that the plane was shot down and that the perpetrators of the downed flight MH17 should be brought to justice.

The prime minister stressed that it was necessary to find hard and conclusive evidence before concluding who was responsible. Nazak said many questions still remained on what happened, and these questions needed concrete answers. It was still unclear whether the plane was hit by a missile, who fired the missile, who supplied weapons, and whether it was a mistake or a planned operation, Malaysia’s prime minister noted.

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said UN chief Ban Ki-moon was alarmed at what seem to be “credible, numerous” reports that suggest that a surface-to-air missile was used to shoot down the plane. Feltman added that the UN has at this point no independent verification of the circumstances of the tragic crash.

Ukraine: militias and Russian military are to blame

The first reports saying that the plane could have been shot down by the militias appeared in the day of the catastrophe. Ukrainian secret services published an audio recording of the rebels’ conversation, where they were allegedly discussing the elimination of the Malaysian Boeing. However, a group of experts studied the recording and drew a conclusion that it was made up of numerous unrelated recordings.

According to Advisor to the Minister of Defense of Ukraine Anton Gerashchenko, the Boeing was shot down with an SA-11 (Buk) air defense missile system. The Ukrainian presidential administration issued a statement, in which Petro Poroshenko left open the possibility that the plane was shot down from the Russian territory and stated that the Ukrainian army did not commit any actions to hit air targets in the accident’s area. 

In its turn, a source in Russia’s Defense Ministry reported that Russian war planes did not perform any flights in areas neighboring with the Donetsk region on Thursday. Ukraine’s counter-intelligence chief Vitaly Naida in an interview with CNN expressed confidence that “a Russian, well-prepared, equipped and well-trained officer… has pushed this button intentionally” to down the Malaysian Boeing over Ukraine.

“Such ungrounded statements, especially from an official, cause perplexity and illustrate the unprofessionalism of this official,” said spokesperson for Russia’s Defense Ministry Gen.-Maj. Igor Konashenkov in reply. “To draw such conclusions, facts are needed. What we see here is a meaningless delirious wish-wash,” the official said.

US: Militants shoot down Boeing over Ukraine by mistake

US Vice President Joseph Biden expressed confidence that the incident "was not an accident." According to him, the plane was shot down in the air.

US intelligence claims that the Malaysian airliner, crashed in the Ukraine, was shot down by missile ground-to-air. According to US President Barack Obama the missile was fired from the territory controlled by separatists. He believes the militia receives assistance from Russia and "includes weapons and training".

The US State Department invoked the photos and videos posted on social networks, as well as a video from YouTube as a proving that the militias have anti-aircraft missile systems Buk. Media had been posted by Ukrainians. The other versions look "completely illogical" the State Department said respond to the question of the other photos from social networks that show to the contrary.

US intelligence agencies believe that the airliner Malaysian Airlines was shot down "by mistake" militias who apparently mistook him for a military aircraft.

The US security officials did not say anything except that they did not have any direct evidence of Russia’s involvement in the air crash . The United States has accused Russia of “creating conditions” for the crash; there were allegations that Moscow had handed over weapons to the armed militia in the Donetsk region; finally, there is a “dominate theory” that the self-defense forces controlling the crash area were to blame for the tragedy In turn, the Defense Ministry said that Russia did not pass militia SAM Buk, as well as other weapons and military equipment.

A high-ranking Defense Ministry official also said that videos allegedly showing the transportation of a Buk air defense system from Ukraine to Russia were a result of manipulation. “This is clear manipulation. The images were taken in the city of Krasnoarmeisk, which is borne out by the roadside billboard giving the address of a car dealer in the city,” Lieutenant-General Andrei Kartapolov said.

Rebels deny their involvement

The authorities of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) deny their involvement in the crash of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing.

“The self-defense forces do not have weapons that can hit a plane flying at an altitude of 10km. We have MANPADs that can hit targets at an altitude of 3-4km,” the DNR prime minister’s spokesperson Sergei Kavtaradze said. He accused the Ukrainian army of downing the plane. A spokesperson for the press service of self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) confirmed that the self-defense forces do not possess Buk missile systems (SA-11). DNR Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Purgin said the self-defense forces do not have radar stations and cannot track airplanes.

Militias in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics do not have Ukrainian air defense missile systems Buk and S-300 at their disposal, Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Vitaly Yarema said on July 18.

Russia's versions: plane in coverage sector of Ukraine's missile systems and mysterious Su-25

Russia’s Defense Ministry reported, that the Boeing 777 crash site was within the coverage sector of two S-200 surface-to-air missile systems and three Buk-M1 medium-range surface-to-air missile systems. “Russian radio-technical facilities during July 17 were recording the work of the 9s18 Kupol radar station of the Buk-M1 squadron, stationed in the area of the Styla settlement (30 km south of Donetsk),” the ministry added.

Russian monitoring systems recorded up to 4 Ukrainian Buk M1 air defense systems in the crash area on the day of the accident. The point where the plane was at the time of the accident was within the Buk system’s coverage sector. According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, 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.

Lieutenant-General Andrei Kartapolov, head of the Main Operations Department of the Russian Army General Staff, said at a news conference that the Su-25 attack plane 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. Russian military experts support the version that Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was shot down by a Ukrainian Su-25 attack plane.

According to Vladimir Mikhailov, former commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force (2002-2007), it happened with direct contribution of the command and control center in Dnipropetrovsk. Moreover, “the people behind that terrible terrorist attack counted on the plane crashing on Russian territory” Mikhailov said.

Mikhailov said he is convinced that the Boeing was not hit by a missile from a Buk air defense system, as the wreckage on the crash site speaks in favor of that version. “A hit by a Buk missile would have produced an instant explosion, which should have resulted in much more damage,” noted Mikhailov. According to him, another flying object was detected being near the place of crash for four minutes. The object was barraging over the crash site in order to control the situation.