The United States has accused Russia of manipulating events which resulted in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, resulting in the deaths of 298 people, The Guardian reported today.
QuotingUS intelligence officials, The Guardian reported that the initial assessment by authorities was that pro-Russian separatists in the Ukraine accidentally shot down MH17.
"US officials have stopped short of laying the blame for the disaster directly at Moscow's door," The Guardian reported, based on partial declassified US intelligence.
"A contributing factor was the training given by Russia to its separatists proxies on anti-aircraft weapons.
"This has been used in recent weeks by separatists to shoot down about 12 aircraft," intelligence officials told The Guardian.
The officials said Ukrainian forces had yet to fire any surface-to-air missiles as their conflict with the separatists was on the ground.
The officials added that the release of their preliminary reports was being made to address claims by the Russian military, which they consider confusing and bewildering.
"Russia appears to have instructed affiliated and friendly elements to manipulate the media," an intelligence official told The Guardian.
On Tuesday, Russian ambassador to Malaysia Lyudmila Vorobyeva said the rebels in Donetsk only possessed portable missiles.
"The range of this portable system is only 5,000m, which makes it incapable of targeting a commercial airliner flying at 10,060m," Vorobyeva had said.
Vorobyeva told a press conference at the Russian embassy in Kuala Lumpur that Russia had been unfairly demonised by the Western media.
"Where is the tangible evidence that Russia was involved in the MH17 disaster? All the finger pointing and accusations have been made without any proof.
"When the United States attacked Iraq in 2003, they claimed it was because the Middle Eastern country had weapons of mass destruction.
"However, until today, the world still awaits the evidence of WMD which was the justification for the assault led by the United States," Vorobyeva said.
She said the rebels in Donetsk did not possess the sophisticated BUK surface-to-air missile system nor had they been trained to use it.
"The BUK missile system is a very sophisticated piece of equipment and only specially trained personnel can handle it," the ambassador had said.
Vorobyeva was asked to give her opinion on who had been responsible for shooting down MH17, and what actually happened on Thursday.
"We are not going to play the games which our Western counterparts are doing, which is blaming and accusing someone without any actual proof.
"Russia has been consistently calling for a thorough investigation to be conducted to produce evidence on who is responsible for the disaster."
Flight MH17 departed from Amsterdam last Thursday with 15 crew members and 283 passengers.
The Kuala Lumpur-bound aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile as it was flying over eastern Ukraine.
The remains of more than 200 of those on board the flight have been retrieved and sent to the Netherlands for identification before they are repatriated to the relevant countries.
In Malaysia, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said today that the government hoped to bring back the bodies of the Malaysians who died in the crash before the Aidilfitri festival next week.
Aside from the all-Malaysian crew, there were 29 Malaysian passengers on board the ill-fated Boeing 777 aircraft. – July 22, 2014.