When Flight MH-17 crashed, there were no Ukrainian fighter aircraft in Ukrainian airspace and the plane was outside the range of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ ground based air defense systems, according to Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Information Analysis Center of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council during a press briefing at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Ukraine’s Anti-Terrorism Operation (ATO) forces, Kyiv’s name for its armed forces involved in the conflict with pro-Moscow separatists, did not carry out any operations to destroy any air targets. The Ukrainian military have taken an inventory of its anti-aircraft missile systems and confirmed that no missiles are missing.
“No Ukrainian aircraft operated near the plane crash site at the relevant time and that isn’t their usual operational height,” said Mr. Lysenko.
The Boeing crash is the third case of a plane being shot down after Ukrainian military planes, an An-26 transport plane and a Su-25 fighter jet, were brought down from the Russian territory. In particular, at 18:55 on July 16 the Ukrainian Intelligence Service (SBU) reported that Russian Air Force planes were used against an Ukrainian Air Force’s SU-25 plane near the town of Amvrosiyivka. To destroy the target, the command of the Russian Air Force ordered the pilot of a MiG-29 plane to use an R-27T (AA-10 Alamo-B) medium range Infra Red homing air-to-air missile. This type of missile cannot be detected by the Su-25’s SPO-15 radiation warning receiver, and neither can it be detected by satellite surveillance systems or post-launch surveillance systems.
R-27 missiles are manufactured in Ukraine and have the markings of manufacturing company “Artem” (Kyiv), and so if missile debris is found it will not be identifiable as from a Russian weapon. During the air fight, Russian fighter aircraft homed in on the Ukrainian plane three times for a guaranteed rocket launch. After the target was acquired with the help of an onboard quantum optical location station, the MiG-29 fired one missile at the Ukrainian plane. It is only thanks to the skillful anti-missile maneuvers of the Ukrainian pilot that a direct hit was avoided. The missile hit the motor nozzle and the pilot crash-landed the plane.
Russia’s military aviation continues to carry out air reconnaissance and patrol the Ukraine-Russia border. Yesterday, (July 17) at 11:40, Ukrainian border guards observed eight Russian helicopters flying along the border, opposite the area of responsibility of the Amvrosiyivka border service division of the Donetsk detachment. And today, at 03:55, reports came in of a drone flying along the Azov coast towards the town of Novoazovsk.
In the meantime, military activities continue in the ATO area. Over the last 24 hours, Ukrainian troops have advanced 10–15 km into the territory considered to be controlled by the terrorists. ATO forces have regrouped and are tightening the noose around the separatist strongholds. Ukrainian subunits control some portions of the border but complete control over Ukraine’s border with Russia is not yet possible.
Also over the last 24 hours, illegal armed formations have made 19 attacks against Ukrainian check points and other positions. Terrorists have also opened fire three times into Russian territory. In particular, shots were fired at the town of Kuybyshevo (on the Russian side of the border). In response, Russian troops fired at Ukrainian ATO positions near the border.
On July 17, a Boeing-777 civil airplane that belonged to the Malaysian Airlines was on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, flying at height of 10,100 meters. At approximately 16:20 the plane disappeared from the radars of the Dnipropetrovsk district air traffic control center and at 16:45 an emergency beacon signal was detected. According to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, at 16:45 the plane crashed 3 kilometers northwest from the town of Hrabove in the Shakhtarsk district of the Donetsk region. At 17:40 the fire was extinguished. The plane was carrying 298 persons including 15 crew members.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has offered his profound condolences to the relatives of those killed in the plane crash and stressed that those responsible for this tragedy will be found and punished. He instructed the government to form a special commission to investigate the tragedy. At the president’s initiative, experts of the International Civil Aviation Organization together with the representatives from the Netherlands, Malaysia and the USA were invited to join the commission in order to ensure maximum integrity for the investigation.
In New York today, the Ukrainian delegation will take part in an extraordinary meeting of the UN Security Council initiated by Great Britain which will focus on the plane crash. The permanent representative of Ukraine to the UN intends to speak at the meeting.