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Who shot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17?

US Intelligence has confirmed that a surface-to-air missile shot down a Malaysian Airlines plane, flight MH17, en route from Amsterdam. Pictures of the wreckage have now appeared, yet no one has a clear idea of who fired the missile. Here are the three most prominent explanations:

Pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists

In the past month separatists have shot down a number of Ukrainian military aircraft. On Sunday, separatists used rocket launchers to bring down a Ukrainian Air Force Il-76MD military transport plane. But planes have all been flying lower than a commercial aircraft would have been – the range is about 10,000 feet, and the Malaysian aircraft was flying at about 30,000 feet. Airlines have been aware of the risk in Eastern Ukraine, and were all operating on the assurances of Ukraine’s government that they’d be safe at that height.

Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, has said:

“I would like to note that we are calling this not an incident, not a catastrophe, but a terrorist act.”

Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, has told the Wall St Journal that it was pro-Russian separatists:-

“They clearly thought that it was a military transport plane that they were shooting at. They were the ones who did this.

But with what? To hit an aircraft flying so high requires a more advanced radar-guided missile, and there has so far been no indication that the rebels have such a thing. Andrei Purgin, deputy prime minister of the so-called ‘Doinetsk People’s Republic’, has made this point: “We don’t have the technical ability to hit a plane at that height”.


But then again, as David wrote earlier: ‘BBC Monitoring says that, moments before news of this incident was reported, some separatists claimed that they had downed a Ukrainian plane. Several websites (see here and here) appear to confirm this account.’