Moscow/Kiev: Ukrainian anti-aircraft systems covered the airspace where Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down Thursday, the Russian defence ministry said Friday.
“The area is covered by two Ukrainian S-200 long-range anti-aircraft missile systems and three Buk-M1 middle-range missile systems,” the ministry’s press service said in a statement.
According to the ministry, Russian air defence monitoring Thursday detected activity of the Ukrainian radar station Kupol, which is an integral part of the Buk-M1 system, Xinhua reported.
Russian military analysts calculated that any of these systems could launch a missile to shoot down the MH17.
However, the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council denied Ukrainian forces had anything to do with the tragedy.
“No Ukrainian fighters were on a mission at the time (of the incident). The Boeing 777 was beyond reach of the Ukrainian ground anti-aircraft systems,” the council’s spokesman Andrei Lysenko told reporters.
He added the Ukrainian defence ministry has already checked its arsenals of the anti-aircraft missiles and none of them was missing.
The Boeing 777, en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam, crashed Thursday afternoon in the conflict-hit Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine killing all 298 passengers and crew on board.
Among those on board were were 173 Dutch passengers, 44 Malaysians, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, nine British, four Germans, four Belgians, three Filipinos, one Canadian, and one New Zealander.
The cause of the crash is yet to be determined, but Kiev and the militia in eastern Ukraine have traded accusations over the incident.