Downed Malaysian plane: ‘War has gone beyond Ukraine’

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

War has gone beyond the territory of Ukraine, the country’s President Petro Poroshenko has stated following the shocking news that the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was brought down yesterday (17 July) over the territory of Eastern Ukraine close to the Russian border.

“Today, terrorists have killed almost 300 persons with one shot”, said Poroshenko in his statement. While it appears that the plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine, the reaction of EU officials stopped short of pointing out at them.

Russian President Vladimir Putin pinned the blamed on Kyiv for renewing its offensive against the rebels two weeks ago after a ceasefire failed to hold.

“I would like to note that this tragedy would not have occurred if there were peace in that country, or in any case, if hostilities had not resumed in southeast Ukraine. And certainly, the government over whose territory it occurred is responsible for this terrible tragedy,” Putin is quoted as saying by the Kremlin website.

US Vice President Joe Biden said the jet was "blown out of the sky" and a US official said that while its origin was unclear, a surface-to-air missile was probably responsible.

Reportedly, the pro-Russian separatists who have been the first on the crash site have taken the airplane’s black box to Moscow.

“I have just had phone conversations with President of the USA Barack Obama, Prime Ministers of Malaysia and the Netherlands – countries passengers of which have suffered most from the terrorist act. It is unfortunate that terrorists have already claimed their willingness to cover things up and take the flight data recorder, the so-called black box, to Moscow,” Poroshenko said.

Intercepted calls: Kozytsyn’s Russian Cossacs shut down the plane

According to intercepted telephone conversations, a separatist group in Eastern Ukraine known as Kozitsyn’s Russian Cossacs have brought down the Malaysian airliner flight MH17 yesterday (17 July), killing all 295 people aboard and sharply increasing tensions between Russia and the West.

According to the General Staff of Ukrainian Armed Forces,  the Malaysia Airlines was brought down by a Russian-made ground-launched BUK missile, as the liner was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters.

Ukraine has no long-range air defence missile systems in this area.

The plane was shot down, because the Russian air defence systems was affording protection to Russian mercenaries and terrorists in this area, the Ukraine ministry said.

The leader of the terrorists Igor Girkin (Strelkov) immediately commented on the airplane catastrophe, believing that it was an Ukrainian jet that was put down: “In Torez [Donetsk region, close to the Russian border] An-26 was shot down, its crashes are lying somewhere near the coal mine “Progress”. We have warned everyone: do not fly in our skies.”

An intercepted telephone conversation 30 minutes after the crash Igor ‘Bes’ (Demon) Bezler tells Vassily Geranin, colonel of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Forces of the Russian Federation, that Kozitsyn’s Russian Cossacs, based at Chernukhino [close to Horlivka], have put down what is believed to be at that moment a Ukrainian military plane.

In a second conversation a first speaker designated as “Major” tells his superior called “Grek” (Greek) that the remains of the plane have been inspected and that it has become obvious that it’s a civil plane and there are many people killed.

Plane was ‘bringing spies’

In a third intercepted conversation military commander Mykola Kozitsyn looks tense at the news that the plane proves to be civilian, while the militant to whom he speaks tries to cheer him up, saying that the plane was “bringing spies”.

According to information obtained by EurActiv, the Russian Cossacs in the region of Luhansk, with headquarters at Antratsyt, Luhansk region, are under the command of Mykola Ivanovych Kozitsyn, , Russian citizen. He holds the rank “General of the Russian Cossacks Forces Army” and introduces himself as a Russian GRU (Military intelligence) officer. The strength of the Russian Cossacs in the Luhansk region is of up to 1000 people.

Read: Ukraine submits evidence of Russian covert action

Kozitsyn, who is on the EU sanctions list, is responsible for kidnapping of two teams of the OSCE observers in late May 2014.

According to information provided by the Ukrainian government to EU countries before the 16 June European Council, the first interlocutor in the intercepted conversations Igor ‘Bes’ Bezler (Igor Mykolaiovich Bezler) is a Russian citizen, leader of a separatist group located in Horlivka, Donetsk region. He is a former member of a Russian GRU subversive group led by Igor Girkin (Strelok). The unit comprised of two groups of 70 and 250 heavily armed insurgents.

Igor Vsevolodovych Girkin (Strelok) is the leader of a separatist group stationed in Slaviansk, Donetsk region. It comprises some 200 trained fighters and up to 800 armed “insurgents”.

Other militant groups include the so-called “Abwehr” group of Sergei Anatoliovich Zdriliuk, located at Kramatorsk, the battalion ‘Vostok” of Alexandr Sergiovich Khodakovskyi located in Donetsk, the “Chapaev” faction of Fedir Dmytrovich Berezin, located in Donetsk, the group of Ihor Venedyktovich Plotnitski based in Luhansk and in the Luhansk region.


Commenting on the crash of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukrainian territory, the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso stated:

“We are shocked by the crash of the Malaysian airliner in Ukraine and the tragic loss of so many lives. Citizens from many nationalities including from the European Union have been killed.

On behalf of the European Union, we wish to convey our deepest condolences to the Prime Ministers of the Netherlands, Malaysia, to the governments of all other affected nations, and to the families of the victims.

We call for an immediate and thorough investigation into the causes of the crash. The facts and responsibilities need to be established as quickly as possible. The European Union will continue to follow this issue very closely.”

Several Ukrainian planes and helicopters have been shot down in four months of fighting in the region. Ukraine had said an An-26 was shot down on Monday and one of its Sukhoi Su-25 fighters was downed on Wednesday by an air-to-air missile - Kyiv's strongest accusation yet of direct Russian involvement, since the rebels do not appear to have access to aircraft.

Moscow has denied its forces are involved in any way.

The President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz stated:

“I was shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic crash of the Malaysian airliner which led to the death of so many people.

I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and to the national authorities of the affected countries.

The circumstances which led to this crash must be thoroughly investigated and responsibility for this tragedy established. The European Union and its Member States must offer all the necessary expertise to Ukrainian and international authorities to complete the investigation.

The White House published the following statement:

“The United States is shocked by the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, and we offer our deep condolences to all those who lost loved ones on board. We continue to seek information to determine whether there were any American citizens on board.

It is critical that there be a full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation as quickly as possible. We urge all concerned – Russia, the pro-Russian separatists, and Ukraine – to support an immediate cease-fire in order to ensure safe and unfettered access to the crash site for international investigators and in order to facilitate the recovery of remains. The role of international organizations – such as the United Nations and the OSCE in Ukraine – may be particularly relevant for this effort, and we will be in touch with affected nations and our partners in these organizations in the coming hours and days to determine the best path forward. In the meantime, it is vital that no evidence be tampered with in any way and that all potential evidence and remains at the crash site are undisturbed. The United States remains prepared to contribute immediate assistance to any international investigation, including through resources provided by the NTSB and the FBI.

While we do not yet have all the facts, we do know that this incident occurred in the context of a crisis in Ukraine that is fueled by Russian support for the separatists, including through arms, materiel, and training. This incident only highlights the urgency with which we continue to urge Russia to immediately take concrete steps to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine and to support a sustainable cease-fire and path toward peace that the Ukrainian government has consistently put forward.”

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Gerry's picture

Despite the fact that there are idiots in fatigues and uniforms walking around there with access to these kind of weapons, and firing them into international air corridors, Poroshenko is wrong when he calls them terrorists. They are insurgents, and he is not helping the situation by using his inflammatory labeling. Aside from that, the people responsible need to spend the rest of their days in Guantanamo Bay prison.

an european's picture

No Guantanamo too simple but execution is the right word or maybe giving them to Kim Jung Un Dog's .. they are hungry!
On what happened I'm so sorry for the people and their families !
Can't find any words to describe

Mike Parr's picture

I'm inclined to partly agree with you Gerry - however, various reports suggests that Russia has been allowing at a tacit level the recruitment of people within Russia to fight in the east of Ukraine - of course it's an open question: how hard was it to operate the missile system - did the east Ukraine locals have the knowledge or did Russia provide somebody with the knowledge. If the latter then "Russian nationals shoot down civilian airplane" would be the headline. I terms of punishment I tend to side with Gilbert & Sullivan - "punishment fits the crime" - stick em in a plane @ 33,000 feet etc.

an european's picture

HOW is called this m*r*n pro Russian separatist who shot down the plane ?
Names publicly please !!

Shikiria's picture

Knowing that the Ukraine-Russia borders are tense and has been for the past few months... why is it that Malaysian civilian planes still fly through that air space? I'm not attempting to place/shift blame at all, I'm just seeking possible reasons as to why one would fly through potentially dangerous zones.

an european's picture

As already reported MH17 was outside the (Danger) Limit and not in !
The pilots made nothing wrong!

To be keen :
I never know until now that some of the separatists use sophisticated ground to air armaments which could reach an impact beyond 33.000 feet - as it happened !

bettysenior's picture

The tragedy of the destruction of the Malaysian airline has to be totally condemned. But where it is apparent that the Ukraine government and NATO issued warnings at least a week before the aircraft was shot down that it was a dangerous air flight path to fly over. So why did not the ICAO take any heed of this warning is the big question? To my mind it was down to economics and economics was put above the safety of human life. In this respect we know that the flight path was the most economic route and where corporate costs and profits appear to have been the only reason why this great danger to human life was not averted? This purely can only be the reason when governments and NATO gave these warnings well in time.
But it has to be said that big business unfortunately has always put their corporate profits above human life. We are also aware and most people know that there have always been deaths through friendly fire in conflicts and even the best have caused a great number of deaths by their own accidents. Unfortunately although not friendly fire in this case, it may have been an accident where a Ukrainian military transport plane was mistook for the commercial plane. But again the ICAO should have known that this was a high possibility as some of the missiles in the control of the Russian separatists have a range of 70,000 ft and a flight path altitude of 32,000 ft was no deterrent that something like this could happen. Therefore my assertion to why this tragedy happened was down to costs and basically corporate profits ultimately. If not, why did the ICAO not make sure that this terrible disaster just could never possibly happen. An additional fuel usage of a mere $5,500 per plane (less than $20 dollars per passenger) has been cited to travel on an alternative flight path (which they are now doing) would have been a small additional price to pay for nearly 300 lives including 80 children and 3 infants.

It is about time therefore that human life was placed above corporate profits by our political leaders and where prisonable offences for the board room were introduced to protect people against harm.

evad666's picture

Meanwhile the EU is too busy congratulating itself on its new leadership which appears to be on record supporting the line when it gets difficult lie.

Human Rights's picture

It is childlike to say that the Ukrainian state does not have weapons capable to shot down MH17 (Su-15 interceptor aircraft, BUK or C-300 missile systems), while the pro-Russian rebels have everything necessary. Furthermore, launching ready versions only seconds and minutes after the tragedy is rather inappropriate and somewhat suspicious.

Let us remind Flight 1812 shot down by the Ukrainian military over the Black Sea on 4 October 2001, with 78 dead passengers and crew members. The accident was then covered too fast because of the close political relations between Russia and Ukraine at that time.

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