Russia claims that flight MH17 was shot down by a Ukrainian missile

Russia claims that flight MH17 was shot down by a Ukrainian missile
The Russian military says the missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 came from the arsenals of the Ukrainian army, not from Russia. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) was a passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was shot down on 17 July 2014 while flying..

The Russian military says the missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 came from the arsenals of the Ukrainian army, not from Russia.

Background

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) was a passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was shot down on 17 July 2014 while flying over eastern Ukraine, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.  Contact with the aircraft, a Boeing 777-200ER, was lost when it was about 50 km (31 mi) from the Ukraine–Russia border and wreckage of the aircraft fell near Hrabove in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, 40 km (25 mi) from the border. The shoot-down occurred in the ongoing war in Donbass, between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian security forces. The crash was Malaysia Airlines' second aircraft loss during 2014 after the disappearance of Flight 370 on 8 March 2014.

As of May 2018, the Russian government rejects claims that Russia bears any responsibility for the crash, and denies involvement. The Russian defence ministry said that it had never deployed anti-aircraft missile systems in Ukraine.

The state-controlled Russian media has floated several conspiracy theories to discredit any blame on Moscow. The Russian Government holds Ukraine responsible since the crash happened in the Ukrainian flight information region (FIR). The FIR is a specified region of airspace in which a flight information service and an alerting service (ALRS) are provided by a country.

Analysis

The passenger jet was shot down by a Soviet-made missile over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in July 2014, killing all 298 people aboard. The Netherlands and Australia announced in May that they believe the missile was transported to Ukraine from a military unit in the Russian city of Kursk.

Russia has vehemently denied involvement. Lt. Gen. Nikolai Parshin, chief of the Missile and Artillery Directorate at the Russian Defence Ministry, told reporters on Monday that the military had studied archives at the research centre that produced the Buk missiles.

He said the missile in question was transported to a military unit in 1986 and to their knowledge never left Ukraine. The Dutch-led joint investigation team (JIT), who concluded that the airliner was downed by a Buk surface-to-air missile launched from pro-Russian separatist-controlled territory in Ukraine.

According to the JIT, the Buk that was used originated from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the Russian Federation, and had been transported from Russia on the day of the crash, fired from a field in a rebel-controlled area, and the launcher returned to Russia after it was used to shoot down MH17.

The DSB and JIT findings confirmed earlier claims by American and German intelligence sources as to the missile type and launch area. In 2014 the American intelligence had also said that Russia had supplied the Buk missile to pro-Russian insurgents, and that the insurgents most plausibly shot down MH17 in error, misidentifying it as a military aircraft.

On the basis of the JIT's conclusions, the governments of the Netherlands and Australia hold Russia responsible for the deployment of the Buk installation and are taking steps to hold Russia formally accountable. 

Counterpoint

The aircraft was shot down over an active war zone with no clear indication of who shot the missile. However, it cannot be discounted that the missile that hit the aircraft was of Russian origin and was deployed specifically in the area to counter large aircrafts.

More importantly, this could be Russia’s attempt to divert attention from the evidence which points towards Moscow’s role. If conclusive proof were to point towards any country, that country would be guilty of conducting a massive war crime by deliberately targeting a civilian airliner.

Assessment

Our assessment is that it is highly possible that rebels have shot down the plane believing that they were targeting a Ukrainian military aircraft. We feel that the real-time experiment conducted by the Buk manufacturer, Almaz-Antey showed that the projectile which hit MH17 was from an earlier generation, and is no longer in service with the Russian military. We also believe that the plane was shot down in an active war zone, therefore it is difficult to ascertain the originating faction of the missile

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