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Russia questions Ukraine and US over Malaysian Airlines #MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine

Tuesday, 22 July 2014 - 12:13pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA Webdesk
  • Reuters

Russia on Monday released military monitoring reports which showed a military jet, SU-25 which belonged to Kiev following Malaysian Airline's MH17 some time before it was shot down in Ukraine.

According to the reports, the jet was merely three to five kilometers from Boeing which was carrying 300 people. This release led to Russia posing yet another set of questions to Ukraine and the US regarding the circumstance of the tragedy as reported by Russia Today

Russian military officials, chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Andrey Kartopolov and chief of the Air Force Main Staff Lt. Gen Igor Makushev posed the following questions to Kiev and Washington concerning the potential causes of the crash in Eastern Ukraine that killed almost 300 people last Thursday.

(Below is an interview that appeared in Russia Today)

1. Why did the MH17 plane leave the international corridor?

Please note that the plane stayed within the corridor until it reached Donetsk but then it deviated from the route to the north,” said Kartopolov.

2. Was MH17 leaving the route a navigation mistake or was the crew following instructions by Ukrainian air traffic controllers in Dnepropetrovsk?

The maximum deviation from the left border of the corridor was 14 km. Following that, we can see the plane maneuvering to return to the corridor, yet the Malaysian crew did not get a chance to complete the maneuver. At 05.20 pm, the plane began to lose speed, and at 05.23 pm it disappeared from Russian radars.”

3. Why was a large group of air defense systems deployed to the militia-held area if the self-defense forces have no planes?

As far as we know, the Ukrainian military had three or four air defense battalions equipped with Buk-M1 SAM systems deployed in the vicinity of Donetsk on the day of the crash. This system is capable of hitting targets within the range of 35 km at the altitude of up to 22 km.”

4. Why did Kiev deploy Buk missile system right next to the militia-controlled area straight ahead of the tragedy?

We have satellite photos of the places where Ukraine had its air defense units deployed in the southeastern parts of the country. The first three photos were made on July 14. The first photo shows Buk launchers 8 km northwest of Lugansk. You can clearly see a TELAR and two TELs. The second photo shows radars 5 km north of Donetsk. You can see two TARs along with other equipment and technical structures. The third photo shows air defense systems north of Donetsk. You can clearly see a TELAR launcher and about 60 military and auxiliary vehicles, tents for vehicles and other structures.

Here’s a photo of the same area made on July 17. Please note that the launcher has disappeared. The fifth photo shows a battery of Buk missiles at the village of Zaroshchenskoye 50 km east of Donetsk and 8 km south of Shakhtyorsk on the morning of the same day. The sixth photo shows the same area on July 18. As you can see, the battery has left.”

5. On the day of the crash Kiev increased activity on its Kupol-M1 9S18 radars, which are components of the Buk system in the area. Why?

Also, July 17 saw increased activity on the part of Ukraine’s Kupol-M1 9S18 radars, which are part of the Buk system. Here on this chart you see that there were seven radars operating on July 15, eight radars operating on July 16, and nine radars operating on July 17 in the area. Then, starting with July 18, the intensity of radar activities radically decreased, and now there are no more than two or three radars operating a day. The reason behind this is yet to be found.”

6. What was a military plane doing on the route intended for civilian flights?

There were three civilian planes in the area performing their regular flights at this time. There was a flight from Copenhagen to Singapore at 05.17 pm, there was a flight from Paris to Taipei at 05.24 pm, and then there was the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.”  Also, Russian monitoring systems registered that there was a Ukrainian Air Force jet, probably Su-25, climbing and approaching the Malaysian Boeing." 

"The Su-25 was 3-5 km away from the Malaysian plane. Su-25 is capable of climbing to the altitude of 10,000 meters for a short period of time. Its standard armament includes R60 air-to-air missiles, which are capable of locking and hitting targets from 12 km and which are guaranteed to hit the target from the distance of 5 km.”

7. Why was the military jet flying at almost the same time and the same altitude with a passenger plane?

At 05.21’35 pm, with the Boeing’s velocity having dropped to 200 kilometers per hour, a new mark detecting an airborne object appears at the spot of the Boeing’s destruction. This new airborne object was continuously detected for the duration of four minutes by the radar stations Ust-Donetsk and Buturinskaya. An air traffic controller requested the characteristics of the new airborne object, but was unable to get any readings on its parameters – most likely due to the fact that the new aircraft was not equipped with a secondary surveillance radar transponder, which is a distinctive feature of military aircraft,” said Makushev. 

Detecting the new aircraft became possible as it started to ascend. Further changes in the airborne object’s coordinates suggest that it was hovering above the Boeing 777’s crash site, monitoring of the situation. Ukrainian officials earlier claimed that there were no Ukrainian military aircraft in the area of the crash that day. As you can see, that is not true.

8. Where is it right now? Why are some of the missiles missing on the launcher? When was the last time a missile was launched from it?

This is not the first time Russia brings up questions on the plane crash. No explanations have followed with Kiev insisting they have full evidence of Russia being behind the attack, but so far only releasing tapes.

The USA, putting the blame on the self-defense forces, has yet refused to release any intelligence material. On Monday State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf described Russia’s statements as “propaganda and misinformation” - but when reporters asked her whether Washington would be releasing their intelligence and satellite data, Harf only replied "may be." So far the US has been backing its statements by social media and "common sense."

(The interview appeared in Russia Today. Check the full coverage here)




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