The Russian Defense Ministry claims that the missile which shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over the Donetsk province on July 17, 2014, belonged to a Ukrainian military unit.
At a press conference on Monday, Lieutenant General Nikolai Parshin, chief of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Missile and Artillery Directorate said the Russian Defense Ministry has supposedly established that the 9M38 missile for the Buk anti-air system that shot down the Boeing was sent in December 1986 to military unit 20152, the anti-air missile brigade in the Ukrainian Ternopil region.
The department claims that it has identified the missile according to the nozzle and engine serial numbers, provided by the Joint Investigation Team in May 2018.
This is not the first time that Russia has attempted to absolve itself of responsibility for the crash by putting forward alternative theories.
On the day of the catastrophe, the Russian media spread reports of a “Spanish air traffic controller” who said that Ukrainian military planes had been seen close to the Malaysia Airlines plane several minutes before the catastrophe. The false information was spread by Spanish national Jose Carlos Barrios Sanchez, who later admitted that he had been paid $48,000 by the TV channel Russia Today to make the pre-written posts on Twitter. Sanchez has never actually been in Ukraine, and in Spain he has been charged with fraud on several occasions.
The fake Spanish air traffic controller’s message was cited by Vladimir Putin himself when commenting on the catastrophe.
Four days after the tragedy, the Russian Defense Ministry presented satellite photos and diagrams which were supposed to prove that the plane had been shot down by a missile from a Ukrainian Buk system. However, the independent international group Bellingcat proved that the images were forgeries.
In June 2015, Russia’s Investigative Committee put forward yet another theory, claiming that there was a “key witness”, an “ammunition technician” who claimed that the Boeing had been shot down by a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter. Channel Rossiya 1 (Russia One) broadcast “sensational satellite images” supposedly showing a Ukrainian fighter shooting the Boeing. Bellingcat once again analyzed the images and showed them to be fakes, a collage of Google and Yandex maps with an edited-in image of the airliner and fighter.
Later the Russian industrial conglomerate Almaz-Antey, which produces anti-air missiles and radar equipment, published the results of its own “investigation” which stated that the MH17 was actually downed by a Buk, but an old model, no longer in Russia’s armament. Residents of the Zaroshchenske settlement, where Russia said the missile was fired from, refuted this theory.
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flying route MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down in the air over the Donetsk province on July 17, 2014, leading to the deaths of all 298 persons on board.
The international Joint Investigation Team came to the conclusion that the airliner was downed by a missile from a Buk system belonging to the Russian 53rd Anti-Air Missile Brigade based in Kursk. The system was transferred to the Donbas as part of a convoy of other military vehicles belonging to the Russian Armed Forces.