Russian President Vladimir Putin partially blamed Ukraine for the downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane over pro-Russian separatist territory in the east on Thursday, saying it would not have happened if Kiev had not mounted a campaign against the rebels, CNBC reported.
“Without doubt the government of the territory on which it happened bears responsibility for this frightening tragedy,” Putin added, according to Reuters.
Malaysia flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in the rebel stronghold in Donetsk, just 25 miles from the Russian border. U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed the aircraft carrying 295 people was shot down by a surface-to-air missile.
Shortly after the crash, pro-Russian militants were caught on an audio recording reportedly discussing how they shot down the civilian airliner.
“Ukrainians are blaming the separatists and blaming Russia,” journalist Simon Ostrovsky, who has been covering the crisis in Ukraine for months, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Thursday. “They say that Russia arms the rebels and Russia instructs the rebels.”
Indeed, Russia has funneled arms and support to the separatists for some time, including Buk-M1 missiles, which experts believe was what brought down MH17. Just last month, the U.S. State Department accused Moscow of sending tanks, heavy weapons and rocket launchers, and other military vehicles to the rebels.
“[Ukrainians] have no doubt in their mind this plane was shot down by the pro-Russian separatists,” Ostrovsky said.
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