Kyiv, July 18, 2014. “It can be said with 99% certainty that the Malaysian Airlines passenger plane was hit by a missile from the “BUK” missile system, which was transported from Russia to the terrorist-controlled territory of Ukraine two days ago,” reported military expert Ihor Romanenko in his press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
The expert refuted the theory that the Ukrainian Armed Forces could have fired a missile at Boeing. “It was practically impossible to shoot down the plane at the spot where it fell from beyond the perimeter, controlled by the terrorists,” clarified Romanenko.
Two days ago “BUK” missile system was transported through the “transparent” Ukraine-Russia border to Snizhne area in Donetsk region [eastern Ukraine], said Romanenko. Last night, GRU colonel and the leader of the terrorists Igor Girkin personally supervised the immediate return of the missile system “BUK” back to the territory of the Russian Federation, noted the expert.
“BUK” is a complex weapons system, which requires the efforts of highly trained and well-coordinated professionals including the highly-qualified officers to operate. Therefore, the terrorists from the self-proclaimed Donetsk people’s republic (DNR) and Luhansk people’s republic (LNR) could not possibly operate the weapon system so sophisticated, claimed Romanenko. He expressed his belief that Russia not only transports heavy military weapons, but also supplies crews for their operation and maintenance. Such crews wear military uniforms with no insignia, just like it was observed earlier in Crimea.
Romanenko believes that employing the “BUK” missile system is a part of Russia’s new military strategy, which was developed after the successful results of the offensive of the [Ukrainian government-sanctioned] Anti Terrorist Operation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. To counterbalance the Ukrainian military advantage in artillery and aviation units the terrorists started receiving tanks, APCs and IFVs and artillery complexes. To counteract Ukraine’s aviation, the terrorists received anti-aircraft weaponry, large-caliber machine guns, portable missile launchers from the Russian Federation. Such weaponry enabled terrorists to hit Ukrainian aircrafts and helicopters at the altitude of 3-4 km. In the last 2-3 days, however, the situation has changed: the terrorists received the means of anti-aircraft warfare, which are capable to shoot down the targets at the altitude higher than 5 km.
Romanenko confirmed that the “BUK” missile systems are also in service of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Up until recently one surface to air-missile regiment was stationed in Donetsk region. Nonetheless, since this weapons system is not used for ground defense of cities and villages it was redeployed to a different region a few months ago. Only the commanders of the regiment armed with small-weapons remained near Avdiivka.
The expert emphasized that Russia deliberately supplied DNR and LNR terrorists with military equipment, similar to that which is used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. In his opinion, this is done so that the terrorists could explain its origin by seizing it from the Ukrainian military. Such occurrences did take place but they can hardly explain the amount of weapons used by the terrorists.
Notably, on July 17, the civilian aircraft Boeing-777 of Malaysian Airlines was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur at an altitude of 10,100 meters. Approximately at 16:45 [local time – GMT+2] the airliner crashed about three kilometers north-west of the village of Hrabove in Donetsk region. There were 298 people including 15 crew members on board. Immediately, the Ukrainian government has set up an Emergency State Commission to investigate the catastrophe together with ICAO and international experts, inviting Dutch and Malaysian representatives to join the investigation efforts. Last night President Petro Poroshenko expresses his deep and sincere condolences to families and friends of those who died in this terrible tragedy.
Many experts, however, remain convinced that the aircraft was hit by a missile launched from the anti-aircraft weapons system located on the territory controlled by the pro-Russian terrorists.