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ODESSA, UKRAINE — The Kremlin’s international English language television outlet, RT, continued Friday to broadcast vigorous denials that Russia was responsible for bringing down the Malaysian Airlines jet that crashed Thursday in Eastern Ukraine. 298 people were on board.
The Russian defense ministry blamed Ukraine for the incident. But Western world leaders continued to blame the Russians for supplying rebels in Ukraine with sophisticated surface-to-air missiles, with Australia’s prime minister Tony Abbott being the most outspoken, demanding that Moscow answer questions about the “Russian-backed rebels” he said were behind the disaster.
In a story carried Friday morning by RT, Russian Defense Ministry said the Ukrainian military had several batteries of Buk surface-to-air missile systems capable of bringing down high-flying jets in the Donetsk region where the Malaysian passenger plane crashed.
“Units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine located in the crash-site are equipped with anti-aircraft missile systems of Buk-M1,” RT state, citing a Russian Defense Ministry statement. “These complexes in their tactical and technical characteristics are capable of detecting air targets at ranges of up to 160 kilometers, and hit them at full altitude range at a distance of over 30 kilometers.”
A Defense Ministry source said there was no way Russian-backed rebels had “such complex weaponry.”
“Only S-300 and Buk surface-to-air missile systems are capable of hitting targets at such altitude,” the source said.
Ukrainian media stuck closely to the official Ukrainian government line that rebels were responsible.
Ukraine’s SBU security services have released an unverified recording of what it claims to be rebel commanders saying they had shot down the plane and then discovering with horror that it was a civilian jet.
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