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16 Jul, 2015 23:16

MH17 couldn’t be shot from rebel areas, West pressuring investigators – Russian Air Agency

Malaysian flight MH17 couldn’t have been shot by a ground-to-air missile from the areas controlled by eastern Ukrainian rebels, said Russian Federal Air Transport Agency, adding that West is putting pressure upon investigators to get conclusions it wants.

“If the missile, as Western authorities claim, were sent from Snezhnoe area [controlled by the rebels], then according to all experts and specialists, it would have been detected by radar station in Rostov-on –Don [region in Russia which borders on Donetsk Region],” Deputy chief of Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency Oleg Storchevoy said during a briefing on MH17 investigation Thursday.

He also added that if the missile that targeted the Malaysian plane was sent from Zaroshchenskое town which was at that time controlled by Kiev troops, specialists say that “the radars would have recorded neither the launch, nor the movement of the missile towards the plane.”

According to Storchevoy, Russian Air Transport Agency believes that the factors pointing at the downing of the plane by air-to-air or ground-to-air missile “are obvious and they are present.”

The investigators who are preparing the final report on the tragedy should also investigate the version that Malaysian plane crash could have been caused by air-to-air missile, he said.

Storchevoy added that there are “numerous records from plane crash witnesses, saying that they saw a military aircraft in the sky at the moment of MH17 crash.”

He reminded that earlier in July Russian aviation experts published the results of their own investigation, saying that MH17 was probably downed by air-to-air missile, but not a Russian made one.

READ MORE: Israeli-made air-to-air missile may have downed MH17 - report

The version of air-to-air missile is also considered to be a priority one by the Russian Investigative Committee. 

The deputy chief of Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency also commented on the conclusions made by Russian military manufacturer Almaz-Antey, who said that if the flight was downed by a ground-to-air missile, it was Buk-M1 missile system. However, they added at the time that an air-to-air missile variant is also possible.

“We presented all the reports by Almaz-Antey manufacturer to international investigators during one of our meetings,” Storchevoy said, adding that the manufacturer’s investigation “is not a confirmation that the aircraft was downed exactly by Buk-M1 missile, but a consideration of possible version of a catastrophe.”

“Other variants of the downing of the plane are not rejected,” he added.

Russia the only country that published data on MH17 crash

Russia has questions why Ukraine and the US didn’t release the data concerning Malaysian plane crash, said Storchevoy, adding that Russia is the first and only country that published its data on the tragedy.

The Russian Defense Ministry held a briefing several days after Malaysian jet crash, where it presented all of its satellite data concerning the catastrophe.

READ MORE: Ukrainian Su-25 fighter detected in close approach to MH17 before crash – Moscow

Russia has sent international investigators “all the data which was asked from us,” including that from radars in Rostov. No other country has published the data it had on Malaysian jet crash, said Storchevoy. 

“There are no documents from Ukraine, concerning the negotiations of the military on the day of the crash, no military flights schedule, no reports on availability and expenditure of the surface-to-air missiles, no satellite images from the US.” 

Moreover, Russian experts were not invited to participate in the international investigation into the tragedy of the Malaysian Boeing, despite Moscow’s repeated proposals and experience they had, Storchevoy reminded.

“Russian organizations, specialists and experts on such investigations haven’t been involved in [MH17 crash] probe, despite repeated proposals from our [Russian] side to assist by providing competent experts as well as the necessary equipment for carrying out complicated tests.”

Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency has claims over parts of MH17 crash report 

Russian Federal Air Transport Agency has several claims over the report by Dutch investigators, Storchevoy said.

“I can give comments on the current investigation, on the final report only after this final report is officially published.”

He added that Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency has “many things to say on this document and have some things to contradict to some of its points.”

“But currently I am bound by international norms and rules,” he said.

The Dutch Safety Board has released a preliminary report in September 2014 and is planning to release their full report on the tragedy in October 2015.

READ MORE: MH17 broke up in mid-air due to external damage - Dutch preliminary report 

‘West is putting deliberate pressure on MH17 investigators’

Various comments and information leaks on the investigation of the MH17 tragedy before official release of Dutch experts report are merely a deliberate pressure on the international investigation commission, says Storchevoy.

“Without waiting for the results of official investigation, right after the catastrophe, journalists and western politicians started with lightning speed to release biased materials, based mostly on information from the social media, where the alleged causes of the accident, as well as the alleged culprits were named in no uncertain terms.”

This is not in line with the conventions of international civil aviation and should be viewed as “deliberate pressure on the investigative commission to get necessary conclusions,” he said.

Storchevoy used US ambassador to Russia John Tefft as an example, who said in an interview with Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper that the US “just knows” who is behind the tragedy.

“It is hard to call this position [Tefft’s] constructive and worthy of a politician of such a high rank,” Storchevoy said.

The CNN has also aired a report on Wednesday which cited two anonymous US officials reportedly familiar with the Dutch report on the MH17 crash in Ukraine, as saying that the plane was downed by the eastern Ukrainian rebel forces.

However, the Dutch Safety Board spokesperson Sara Vernooij told RT the investigators “cannot confirm” this information.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, from Amsterdam to Kuala-Lumpur, crashed in the Donetsk Region in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board. The Dutch Safety Board has been heading an international investigation into the cause of the crash, since a large number of passengers on the flight were from Holland while the plane itself flew out of Amsterdam.