The Russian maker of the Buk air defence missile system said on Tuesday that it has concluded that Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was downed by an older version of the missile, which isn’t in service with the Russian military but is in Ukrainian arsenals.
Controversy continues over who shot down the plane last summer over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people aboard. Ukraine and the West suspect it was destroyed by a Russian surface-to-air missile fired by Russian forces or separatist rebels fighting in the area. Russia denies that.
Mikhail Malyshevsky, an adviser to the director general of the state-controlled Almaz-Antei consortium, said at a news conference on Tuesday that the analysis was based on photographs of the wreckage available to the public. He said the holes in the plane’s parts were consistent with a specific type of Buk missile and its warhead.
Each of the Buk subtypes has its warhead rigged with shrapnel of a specific shape. This type of missile is in the Ukrainian military arsenals, but not in the Russian, said Almaz-Antei director Yan Novikov.
Rebels have staunchly denied even possessing a functioning Buk missile launcher at the time that MH17 was brought down, although one was seen in separatist-controlled Snizhne by AP reporters a few hours before the plane crashed.
While Novikov and Malyshevsky stopped short of directly blaming Ukraine for shooting down the plane, their statements hinted at that.
Malyshevsky also said that the area from where the missile was likely launched was not Snizhne, as Ukraine and some Western commentators had suggested, but another place controlled by the Ukrainian government.
A spokesman for the Dutch Safety Board, which is investigating the crash, declined to comment on the consortium’s statement. The Dutch report is expected in October.