Dutch blame Russian-built missile for downing MH17
The Dutch Safety Board said yesterday that a Buk missile fired from a surface-to-air system within Ukraine downed the MH17 passenger jet, killing 298 people.
Relatives of the victims of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 also confirmed that they were told that the official investigation had concluded the jet was destroyed by a Buk missile.
They relatives also said that they were told that passengers would have been unconscious when they died.
But the Russian maker of the weapon says its own probe contradicts the Dutch findings.
Robby Oehlers, whose cousin Daisy was among the 298 people killed when the Boeing 777 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, said the conclusion from the Dutch investigation was shared with family members at a meeting in The Hague. "It was a Buk," he said.
The meeting with families of victims came ahead of the official presentation later yesterday of the investigation's final report. Mr Oehlers said the gathering was "as quiet as a mouse" as Dutch Safety Board chairman Tjibbe Joustra explained the conclusions of the 15-month investigation.
Ukraine and Western countries contend the airliner was downed by a missile fired by Russia-backed rebels or Russian forces, from rebel-controlled territory.
However, Almaz Antey, the Russian company that produces Buk anti-aircraft missiles, has denounced the official Dutch investigation into the MH17 air disaster for misidentifying the missile use and the direction it was launched from.
The claims follow the experimental destruction of a retired airliner using a Buk missile warhead which the company carried out earlier this month.
Almaz Antey said that it blew up a Buk warhead next to the cockpit of an Ilyushin 86 airliner in an experiment conducted on October 7.
The company claimed at a press conference in Moscow that the results of its experiment showed the missile used was an older model of Buk missile no longer used by Russia, and that it was launched from near a village called Zarochenske, south-west of the crash site.
The presentation seems designed to cast doubt on mounting evidence that the missile that destroyed MH17 was fired from near Snizhne, in separatist-held territory south east of the crash site in Ukraine.
The official investigation into the causes of the crash, conducted by the Dutch Safety Board, was released later yesterday afternoon. But Almaz Antey appear to have already seen the report and set out to debunk it in an experiment conducted on October 7.
"The results of our experiment contradict the Dutch report," said Yan Novikov, the general director of the company. "It can now be clearly said that if a rocket was used it was a Buk 9M38, not a Buk 9M38M1, fired from the area of Zaroshchensk.
"The only thing that we do not yet understand are why fragments of 9M38M1 are amongst the evidence."
Malaysian airlines flight MH17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpa when it was destroyed over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board.
It is widely believed to have been shot down by a surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists who thought they were aiming at a Ukrainian military aircraft. (© Daily Telegraph London)