MOSCOW, July 23 (RIA Novosti) — The United States is not sure who downed the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 in eastern Ukraine and allows the possibility of independence supporters having shot down the airliner “by mistake,” media reported citing US intelligence officials.
“We don’t know a name, we don’t know a rank and we’re not even 100 percent sure of a nationality,” one of the officials said on Tuesday, as quoted by the Associated Press.
US authorities said they would publish on Tuesday the data confirming their theory of militia’s responsibility for the crash that killed 298 people last week. However, no evidence of the use of a surface-to-air missile or militia’s participation has appeared.
The intelligence officials presented no proof of Russia’s direct involvement in the downing of the airliner, although they continued to accuse Russia of supplying independence supporters in eastern Ukraine with arms and thus “creating the conditions” for the downing of the plane with a Buk missile.
The officials said they did not know if any Russians were present at the missile launch site or if the crew was trained in Russia. They said the most likely explanation for the downing was that the independence supporters made a mistake, as they had previously shot down 12 Ukrainian military airplanes, according to AP.
The officials said at the briefing they relied in their conclusions partly on social media information and video recordings distributed by Ukrainian authorities.
On July 17, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in eastern Ukraine, near the city of Donetsk, killing all 283 passenger and 15 crew members on board. Ukrainian authorities place the blame for the crash on independence supporters, while the latter say they did not have the means to shoot down a plane flying at 33,000 feet.
The Russian military unveiled Monday satellite imagery showing that the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed within the operating zone of the Ukrainian army’s Buk missile systems (NATO SA-11 'Gadfly'). The US Department of State dismissed Russia’s claims that an SA-11 was launched from militia-controlled territory.
Buk is a family of medium-range surface-to-air missile systems designed since the time of the Soviet Union and capable of hitting targets at the altitude of up to 25 kilometers (15.5 miles).