Russia’s Defense Ministry held a press conference September 17 claiming the Buk missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, killing 298 people, was made in Russia in 1986 and later transferred to a military unit in western Ukraine. The ministry said that missile never left Ukrainian soil, contradicting the international Joint Investigative Team’s (JIT) findings in May which placed the blame on Russia for the downing of the civilian airliner.
Nicolas Dhuicq, a spokesman for the Debout La France (the France Arise) party, told the Russia state media outlet Sputnik that Western “silence” following the defense ministry’s latest release “proves the integrity of the data.”
Dhuicq, who holds the party’s sole seat in the French National Assembly and lists Crimea as his location on his personal Twitter account, added that he “personally” had no reason to doubt Russia’s findings.
On Monday, the JIT, tasked with probing the case, issued a statement saying it had “taken note of the information that has been publicly presented by the authorities of the Russian Federation for the first time today.” The JIT went on to say that it had asked for the Russian Federation to provide “all relevant information” as early as 2014, specifically requesting in May of this year “information concerning numbers found on several recovered missile parts.”
The JIT said it would “meticulously study” the new material once the new documents are made available, adding that information previously provided by Russia “had proven to be “factually inaccurate,” citing the “alleged presence of a fighter plane in the vicinity of MH17 on radar imagery presented to the public on (at) a press conference in July 2014.”
Dhuicq would later be quoted as saying that he believed Russia would not have benefited from shooting down the civilian airliner, claiming that the Ukrainian army at that time was very disorganized, while groups “were not under the center’s [Kyiv’s] control.”
He further expressed doubt the airliner had been brought down by Pro-Russian separatists “because shooting such a missile requires some training and organization.”
However, in 2016, the JIT presented the results of its criminal investigation, showing that Flight MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile from the 9M38 series. The missile was fired from a field in the area of Pervomaiskyi, which at the time was controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
In a hastily deleted social media post, separatist leader Igor Girkin boasted some 35 minutes after the downing of MH17 that “the militia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) have brought down a military transport Antonov-26 (An-26) plane of the Ukrainian Air Force on the outskirts of the town of Torez…” The town Girkin reffed to is located 10 miles South-East from Pervomaiskyi, indicated in the JIT investigation.
On July 23, 2014, Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the separatists, told Reuters that pro-Russian rebels did possess the BUK missile system, adding it could have been sent back to Russia to remove proof of its presence.
In May 2018, the JIT presented new results of its investigation, saying “the BUK TELAR that shot down flight MH17 comes from the 53rd Antiaircraft Missile Brigade, or the 53rd Brigade from Kursk in the Russian Federation.”