Ukraine and Russia traded accusations after US intelligence officials said a surface-to-air missile hit a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane carrying 298 people on Thursday.
US Vice President Joe Biden said the plane crash was “not an accident,” adding that it was “blown out of the sky.” Officials were divided over the origin of the missile that hit the plane, which crashed over eastern Ukraine., retired US Gen. Barry McCaffrey said, “This was a major strike, a deliberate strike to get an aircraft at that altitude.” The Ukrainian government, the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region and Russian President Vladimir Putin denied responsibility for downing the aircraft. On his Facebook page, Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, Anton Gerashchenko, claimed that terrorists struck down the plane under Putin’s orders.
Putin said Ukraine bore responsibility for the downing of the plane, adding it would not have happened if Kiev had not resumed a military campaign against separatists. Malaysia Airlines said Ukrainian aviation authorities told the company they had lost contact with Flight MH17, a Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) from Tamak waypoint, which is 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Russia-Ukraine border. “To bring down an airliner from 33,000 feet you need a good air defense weapon, not just a missile itself and also the radar.
That says Russian, and that says to me either a separatist element or the Russians themselves,” Retired Col. Ken Allard told CNBC. Ukraine also has weaponry capable of hitting the passenger plane, Doug Richardson, editor of IHS Jane’s Missiles & Rockets, said in a note. But he noted, “The crew of the Command Post vehicle (containing the data display and control system for the launcher) are likely to have a good idea of the local air activity.”