News Brief

Russia Says Ukraine Shot Down MH17 Amid Pressure Over UK Poisoning

The Russian Defense Ministry has said Ukraine was responsible for the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 four years ago, saying it did not possess the missile that brought down the jet, killing all 298 passengers and crew on board.

Russia has made similar claims before, but the announcement — made in a specially-convened news conference — is being seen as an attempt to divert attention from the continuing controversy over Moscow’s suspected role in the Skripal poisoning case in the United Kingdom.

The news conference was widely covered by the Russian media and state-funded international outlets such as Sputnik.

International investigators have compiled detailed evidence, including video footage, which they say makes clear that the plane was brought down by a Russian Buk anti-aircraft missile supplied by a Russian unit, and fired from territory under the control of Russian-backed forces in Eastern Ukraine. Moscow has refused to assist the probe, claiming it is biased.

The Russian military said those videos have been manipulated and that the Buk missile, though originally manufactured in Russia, had been in Ukrainian hands since 1986, when it was still a Soviet republic.

General Nikolay Parshin told reporters that the missile was in the hands of Ukraine’s 223rd anti-aircraft defense regiment and that this unit had been involved in fighting against Russian-backed separatists at the time the plane was brought down.

The Russian military’s press conference comes just days after two Russian men denied trying to kill double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the British city of Salisbury in March this year.

The two men — alleged spies named by the British government as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov — claimed in a bizarre TV interview on the Kremlin-funded RT network that they were businessmen on holiday and had traveled to Salisbury to see its famous cathedral, provoking widespread derision, even in Russia.