Russia on Monday (17 September) released fresh information to back its claim the missile that downed a Malaysia Airlines flight over war-torn Ukraine in 2014 was fired by Kiev’s forces.
At a briefing, the Russian defence ministry said it was releasing the BUK missile’s serial number for the first time and said that it was produced and sent to Ukraine in the Soviet era and had not been returned to Russia.
The Dutch-led investigation of the crash said it would study the information.
Russia has denied any responsibility for the shooting-down of the plane and has presented a number of theories pointing the finger at Kiev.
The Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed outside the rebel stronghold of Donetsk on 17 July 2014, killing all 298 on board, most of them Dutch nationals.
The European Union imposed damaging economic sanctions on Russia afterwards, blaming Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine who shot down a number of other planes.
A top Dutch investigator said his team had concluded that the plane was shot down by a Russian-made BUK missile from a Russian military brigade in the southwestern city of Kursk.
The Netherlands and Australia in May directly blamed Russia for the attack.
“The missile with the serial number 886847379 intended for the BUK missile system on 29 December 1986, was sent by rail transport to military unit number 20152,” said a senior military official, Nikolai Parshin, quoted by RIA Novosti state news agency.
He said the military unit referred to was based in Ukraine, then a Soviet republic, adding that this information was classified “top secret”.
“After the breakup of the Soviet Union, it (the missile) was not brought onto Russian soil and was incorporated into the Ukrainian armed forces,” he said.
Russia said it had sent the information on the missile to the Netherlands.
The ministry also said that video footage used by an international commission investigating the incident showing the BUK missile being transported into rebel-held eastern Ukraine was faked.
It cited factors such as the way light fell on the moving vehicle and claimed it is shown driving in reverse.
The Joint Investigation Team (JIT), drawn from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, said Monday that it had made a request for information on serial numbers on missile components in May 2018.
“The JIT will carefully study the information brought out by the Russian Federation today” as soon as the documents are made available, it said in a statement.
It added that some information previously provided publicly by Russia such as the alleged presence of a Ukrainian jet near the airliner on radar images “was actually incorrect”.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday signed a decree not to extend an official friendship agreement with Russia.
Last May Dutch prosecutors identified a Russian military unit as the source of the missile that shot down MH17, basing themselves on JIT reports.
Open-source investigation collective Bellingcat previously identified the same unit as the source of the BUK missile launcher. Much of the evidence cited by the JIT was previously identified in earlier Bellingcat reports.