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10/12/2016

Germany blames pro-Russian separatists for Malaysia airliner’s downing

Europe's East

Germany blames pro-Russian separatists for Malaysia airliner’s downing

An armed pro-Russian separatist stands at a site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, 17 July 2014. [Reuters]

Germany’s BND, the first European foreign intelligence agency to say so, has concluded that pro-Russian rebels are to blame for the downing of Malaysia Airline MH17 in Ukraine in July, Der Spiegel weekly reported yesterday (19 October).

The crash over pro-Russian rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine on July 17 killed all 298 passengers and crew and led to a further deterioration of ties between the West and Moscow, who are in dispute over Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.

>> Read: Downed Malaysian plane: ‘War has gone beyond Ukraine’

Gerhard Schindler, president of the BND, told a secret parliamentary committee on security affairs earlier this month that separatists had used a Russian Buk missile defense system from a Ukrainian base to fire a rocket that exploded directly next to the Malyasia Air plane, Der Spiegel reported.

“It was pro-Russian separatists,” the magazine quoted him as saying.

The BND concluded the rebels were to blame after a detailed analysis based on satellite and other photos, Der Spiegel said. No one at the BND was immediately available to comment.

Kyiv blames the incident on the rebels and accused Moscow of arming them, but the rebels and Moscow deny the accusations.

European governments have so far refrained from openly pointing the finger, but shortly after the crash US Secretary of State John Kerry said there was strong evidence that Moscow-backed separatists had downed the plane.

The Dutch government, which has two investigations underway into the downing of the airliner, has yet to say who was responsible. Two thirds of the passengers were Dutch.

A preliminary report by the Dutch Safety Board last month said the airliner crashed due to a “large number of high-energy objects” from outside the aircraft. It drew no conclusions as to where they came from.

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