Russia is taking a different line than most of the world regarding the Malaysia passenger plane that was shot down on Thursday.
Ukraine and the West have presented a mountain of evidence indicating that pro-Russian separatists shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 with a Russian-supplied BUK missile system.
In a statement on Monday, Russia’s ministry of defence began laying the case for blame on the West.
It claims it saw MH17 detour from its route at the same time a Ukrainian warplane flew overhead and a U.S. satellite flew over Ukraine. And it said Ukraine had four SA-11 BUK missile systems on the ground in separatist territory.
The ministry claimed that Russia not delivered any SA-11 BUK missile systems to separatists in Ukraine, “or any other weapons.”
The U.S., on the other hand, asserts that it has “detected an increasing amount of heavy weaponry to separatist fighters crossing the border from Russia into Ukraine” in addition to gathering “information indicating that Russia is providing training to separatist fighters at a facility in southwest Russia, and this effort included training on air defence systems.”
Russia’s defence ministry also said the military has not detected the launch of any missiles near MH17’s flight path, and asked the U.S. to share images “if they have them.”
The Russians also demanded an explanation from Ukraine’s government, saying a Ukrainian warplane flew within 2-3 miles of MH17. It somewhat pointed the finger at Kiev, saying that Ukraine had surface-to-air missiles near separatist-controlled areas at the time of the crash.
In a late-night statement issued Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged other countries who have pointed the finger at Russia to not “use the tragedy to pursue their own political goals.” He also repeated his blame of Ukraine, saying the tragedy could have been avoided if Ukraine’s military had not increased the scope of operations against pro-Russian separatists in late June.
The Russian military took accusations a bit further Monday, also hinting at some strange speculations. The spokesman asked: “Is it a coincidence that the time of the MH17 crash is the same as a U.S. satellite flew over Ukraine?”
On July 17, Malaysia Flight MH17 went down in the town of Torez, which located in separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board were killed.
The West has so far said that pro-Russian separatists are to blame for both shooting down the plane and for subsequently disrupting the international investigation. On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry went on all five Sunday-morning talk shows and laid out the evidence in a prosecutorial style.
Kerry said Ukraine did not have a missile system in the vicinity of the crash.
The U.S. State Department has pointed the finger at Moscow for weeks for meddling in Ukraine, citing a major flow of weapons from Russia to southeastern Ukraine over the past month, including “150 vehicles with armed personnel carrier, multiple rocket launchers, tanks, artillery.”
“We also know to a certainty that the social media immediately afterwards saw reports of separatists bragging about knocking down a plane, and then the so-called defence minister, self-appointed of the People’s Republic of Donetsk, Igor Strelkov, posted a social media report bragging about the shoot-down of a transport plane — at which point when it became clear it was civilian, they pulled down that particular report,” Kerry said.
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