A Ukrainian official claimed on Monday that it was a Russian military officer who “pushed the button” of the missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 17, pinning the blame for the incident directly on Russia.
Vitaly Nayda, Ukraine’s director of informational security, told CNN in an interview that Ukrainian intelligence has taped conversations between a Russian officer and Moscow that provide “absolute” proof of Russia’s direct involvement in the shooting.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Vitaly Nayda” author_title=”Ukraine’s director of informational security”]
A Russian-trained, well-equipped, well-educated officer … pushed that button deliberately.
“We know for sure that several minutes before the missile was launched, there was a report to a Russian officer that a plane was approaching,” he said. “They knew the plane was coming with constant speed, in constant direction,” and should have known it was not a fighter jet but “a big civilian plane.”
On Friday, U.S. envoy Samantha Power told the United Nations Security Council the Ukrainian separatists could not have acted alone because operating the Russian–made Buk missile system requires highly technical skills that the rebels probably don’t have.
Moscow, however, continued to deny the accusations.
Vitaly Churkin, Russian envoy to the U.N., was questioned before the Security Council meeting on Monday about the intercepted conversations. He said that if the recordings were true, then it was not a terrorist attack, but rather an accident that was the result of “confusion.”
“According to them, the people from the east were saying that they shot down a military jet,” Churkin said. “If they think they shot down a military jet, it was confusion. If it was confusion, it was not an act of terrorism.”
Meanwhile, five refrigerated train cars carrying the bodies of the victims, many in bits and pieces, finally arrived in the city of Kharkiv, where representatives from the Netherlands, Australia, and Malaysia waited, The Independent reported.
There were 298 people aboard the plane when it crashed. But officials offered conflicting reports about how many bodies were on the train, and a top Dutch official expressed concern that the remains of more victims could still be at the crash site.
The Ukrainian rebels have also turned over the flight recorders to Malaysia’s National Security Council leader, Colonel Mohamed Sakri, during a press conference early Tuesday. Despite being heavily battered, the black boxes are still intact and in good condition, the official said.