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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Ukraine: Russians Shot Down Malaysia Flight

by VOA News July 19, 2014

Ukraine's counterintelligence chief says his country has 'compelling evidence' that shows Russians played a role in shooting down a Malaysia Airlines flight over a separatist-controlled region near the Russian border.

During a Saturday news conference, Vitaly Nada said separatist rebels do not have the training to operate a high-tech BUK-1 missile launcher.

'To operate BUK-1 you need to have a military education and to be well-trained. We know for sure that the team was Russian, there were Russian citizens operating BUK-1, and they came from the territory of the Russian federation together with the missile launcher,' he said.

Thursday's missile strike killed all 298 people onboard the plane.

Ukraine also has accused Russia of assisting pro-Russian separatists in destroying evidence at the crash site. The government on Saturday said the rebels have removed 38 bodies from the site and taken them to the insurgent-controlled city of Donetsk. It said the bodies were transported with the assistance of 'specialists with clearly Russian accents.'

Also, reporters in the area of the crash said Saturday that armed rebels had fired warning shots to prevent them from reaching the scene.

Russia's Foreign Ministry says Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State John Kerry, discussed the crash investigation by phone on Saturday.

The ministry says the two men agreed on the need for international investigators to have access to the crash site and any information linked to the crash.

The ministry says Lavrov and Kerry also agreed that both counties should use their influence in the region to help stop Ukraine's unrest.

Malaysian official traveling to Ukraine

Malaysian transport minister Liow Tiong Lai was traveling to Ukraine on Saturday to join officials who are assisting in the crash probe. Speaking before he left for Kyiv, Liow said vital evidence at the crash site had been tampered with. He called it a 'betrayal' of the lives lost in the disaster.

He also said the Malaysia Airlines flight was on its proper path when it was downed.

​​'It followed a route which was set out by the international aviation authorities, approved by Eurocontrol, and used by hundreds of other aircraft. If flew at an altitude set and deemed safe by the local air traffic control, and it never strayed into restricted airspace,' he said.

Malaysia Airlines says it is no longer flying planes over Ukrainian airspace, instead routing its aircraft over Turkey.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur Thursday when it was shot down.

​​Nearly 200 of the passengers were Dutch nationals. The International AIDS Society says there were at least six delegates on the plane who where traveling to an AIDS conference in Australia, including former IAS President Joep Lange.

Other victims include 44 Malaysians, 28 Australians and 12 Indonesians. Several people each from Britain, Germany, Belgium, Vietnam and the Philippines also were killed, along with one each from the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Hong Kong. The crew of 15 were all Malaysians.

An 'outrage of unspeakable proportions'

​​On Friday, President Barack Obama said the United States is confident a surface-to-air missile shot down the Malaysia Airlines flight over Ukraine and that it was fired from territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists. The U.S. leader called the deaths of 298 passengers and crew an 'outrage of unspeakable proportions.'

The president stopped short of directly blaming any specific person or group for shooting down the plane, but he said Ukrainian separatists are known to have received a steady stream of support from Russia, including heavy weapons, anti-aircraft weapons and training.

Obama said Russian President Putin has the most control over the situation in Ukraine, but has not used it to work toward a peaceful settlement.



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