The Russian company that makes Buk air defence systems conceded that a Buk missile was responsible for the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 on July 17, 2014.
However, in a news conference, the adviser to the director general of the Almaz-Antei military consortium responsible for Buk systems claimed that the missile that downed MH17 was of an older variety that was no longer operated by Russia.
Instead, the damage done to MH17 by the missile bore resemblance to a previous model of warhead that is still in Ukrainian military arsenals, Almaz-Antei director Yan Novikov said. An advisor to the director general of the company also noted that the Buk missile that downed the plane was, according to the company’s analysis, fired from Ukrainian government controlled territory.
The firm is claiming that the missile was launched from the Zaroshchenske region of Ukraine. Ukraine claims that the region was controlled by separatists at the time, while Moscow insists that the town was under Ukrainian military control.
Despite who controlled the region at the time, Russia’s new claims that a Buk missile was in fact responsible for the downing of MH17 shows a turn around in the Kremlin’s narrative of the events surrounding the tragedy.
Originally, Russia claimed that a Ukrainian fighter jet was responsible for the downing of the plane.
Amazing to watch how official Russian line on MH17 shifted over time as evidence mounts. “Ukrainian fighter jet” claims now totally ditched.
— Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) June 2, 2015
Then, in a news conference on July 21, 2014, the Russian Ministry of Defence claimed that two Ukrainian Buk missile systems located south of Zaroschinskoe were within firing distance of MH7 on the day that it was shot down.
However, analysis of satellite images by Bellingcat has proven that the Russian claims are false. The satellite imagery used by Russia was shown to be out of date and edited and did not represent the actual facts on the ground on July 17.
This latest news conference by Almaz-Antei appears to be another attempt by Russia to reframe the narrative around MH17. Although the conference has not immediately shifted the blame onto Ukraine for the incident, the undertone is that Kiev was responsible for the incident.
However, evidence has steadily mounted that Russia, if not directly responsible for the downing of MH17, did at least provide Ukrainian separatists with the Buk missile system that shot down the aircraft. All 298 passengers aboard the aircraft were killed after it was shot down.
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