WASHINGTON – The US state department has dismissed as â€œpreposterousâ€ Russian TV reports that a Ukrainian fighter jet shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, while the images used to back up the claim have been described as crude fakes.
Russian state television released what it said was a satellite photograph showing that a Ukrainian fighter jet shot down MH17. The White House said Moscow was trying to â€œobfuscate the truth and ignore ultimate responsibility for the tragic downing of MH17â€. It renewed a call to Moscow and Russia-backed separatists to grant unfettered access for international investigators to the crash site.
All 298 people aboard the Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were killed when it was shot down on 17 July over a rebel-held area of Ukraine. Ukraine and the west have blamed the attack on Russian-backed rebels using a ground-to-air missile.
The photo released on Friday by Russiaâ€™s Channel One and Rossiya TV stations purportedly shows a Ukrainian fighter plane firing an air-to-air missile in the direction of flight MH17. The channels said they got the photo from a Moscow-based organisation, which had received it via email from a man who identified himself as an aviation expert.
Several bloggers said the photograph was a forgery, citing a cloud pattern and other incongruous details to prove the photo dates back to 2012.
Mark Solonin, a Russian author who is an engineer by training, said in his blog that both aircraft looked disproportionate to the landscape and concluded that their images had been crudely edited into a satellite picture.
Some saw the photo as a propaganda effort intended to deflect criticism over the tragedy that Russian president Vladimir Putin faces as he attends the G20 summit in Brisbane.
Others noted that the commercial airliner in the photo appears to be of a different type, a Boeing 767.
Most of the victims of the MH17 crash were Dutch and a preliminary report issued by Dutch crash investigators in September said the plane was likely downed by multiple â€œhigh-energy objectsâ€, a finding aviation experts say is consistent with a missile strike.
Pro-Russia separatist rebels in Ukraine have denied any involvement in shooting down the plane. However just three hours before MH17 crashed, the Associated Press reported the passage of a Buk M-1 missile system â€“ a machine the size of a tank bearing four ground-to-air missiles â€“ through the rebel-held town of Snizhne near the crash site.
A highly placed rebel officer told the AP in an interview after the disaster that the plane was shot down by a mixed team of rebels and Russian military personnel who believed they had been targeting a Ukrainian military plane. – The Guardian