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UK says Russia brought down MH17, Russia says it has evidence it was Ukraine

Staff Writer |
British investigators on Friday claimed to have identified a Russian military staff who brought down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014.

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The report by the open source investigative search network Bellingcat identifies "Russian citizen Oleg Vladimirovich Ivannikov" - who is known as Andrey Ivanovich, a high-ranking Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer - as the key person of interest in the ongoing investigation of the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17.

According to the report, Ivannikov supervised the procurement and transport of weapons across the Russia-Ukraine border. He held these functions at the time of the downing of MH17 while he was still serving as GRU officer until at least as late as September 2017.

Ivannikov also coordinated and supervised the military activities of Russian militants, pro-Russian separatists and “private army” contingents from the Russian company Wagner group.

The released information was received from the intercepted telephone calls related to the downing of MH17.

Ivannikov was believed to have been appointed by a senior official, however, the report said the identity of the official could not be revealed.

The report said Ivannikov was one of the two persons of interest whose identity was sought by the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team.

The investigation team, comprising the authorities from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and Ukraine, presented Thursday its findings in a news conference in the Netherlands saying a Russian missile shot down Flight MH17.

JIT said the missile that downed the plane resembled another Russian-made Buk missile that crossed into Ukraine from the Russian city Kursk four weeks prior to the incident.

The team said a Russian 53rd anti-aircraft brigade was in possession of the missile.

The Kuala Lumpur-bound flight from Amsterdam was shot down above the troubled state of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine from a pro-Russian separatist-controlled territory.

The missile that downed Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) in 2014 over Ukraine "more than probably" belonged to the Ukrainian armed forces, the Russian Defense Ministry said Friday.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Friday refuted the accusation, saying that no new anti-aircraft missiles crossed the border to Ukraine since 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed.

The ministry said in a statement that its experts had analyzed video materials of the press conference and discovered that the serial number of the missile's engine clearly indicated that it was produced in 1986 in the former Soviet Union.

The warranty period of this type of anti-aircraft missiles is 15 years, and Russia has destroyed all of its Buk missiles, the statement said.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the division of its military property between the former Soviet republics of Russia and Ukraine, the latter received some 20 Buk missile system units, it said.

"Thus, the only reason for the deliberate silence of the Dutch commission about the origin of the 1986 missile engine is that it more than probably belonged to the Ukrainian armed forces," the ministry said.

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