Russia's Defense Ministry unveils its latest MH17 denial
On September 17, the Russian Defense Ministry presented more claims that it wasn’t responsible for supplying the weapon that destroyed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014. Based on “declassified archives,” Russian officials once again said the missile that downed the plane was fired from territory controlled by the Ukrainian military. The Defense Ministry also played an excerpt from an audio tape where a man identified as a colonel in the Ukrainian army discusses bringing down “another Malaysian Boeing.”
Finally, Russian military officials accused foreign investigators on the Joint Investigation Team of doctoring video footage to produce evidence that the “Buk” missile system responsible for the MH17 disaster was delivered from Russia and then snuck back across the border.
Eliot Higgins, the founder of the open-source intelligence group Bellingcat, responded to the Defense Minstry’s new claims, tweeting, “I expect some very stupid people will be very excited about the Russian Defense Ministry’s MH17 press conference.” In subsequent tweets, he explained that Moscow was merely “misinterpreting the shadows and objects” in video footage, and concluded that “Russia’s ‘experts’ don’t have a clue what they’re talking to, and don’t have access to the same original source material we have.”
In an official reaction, the Joint Intelligence Team said it would review Moscow’s new materials, but pointed out that information supplied by Russian officials in the past “was factually inaccurate on several points.” The JIT also restated its conclusion that the missile that downed MH17 was brought from Russia, returned to Russia, and fired from an area controlled by pro-Russian separatists.