The Latest: US backs report that Russian missile downed MH17


NIEUWEGEIN, Netherlands (AP) — The Latest on the probe into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014 (all times local):

6:45 p.m.

The U.S. State Department says it backs the findings of the interim report of the Joint Investigation Team on the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

The team found that MH17 was shot down on July 17, 2014, by a Buk surface-to-air missile fired from Russian-backed, separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine. It also says the Buk launcher came from Russia into Ukraine and was sent back to Russia after it shot down MH17.

In a statement, the agency says Wednesday “while nothing can take away the grief of those who lost loved ones on that tragic day, this announcement is another step toward bringing to justice those responsible for this outrageous attack.”

It said the U.S. will keep working with the Joint Investigation Team in its MH17 investigation and urged other nations to do so as well.

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6:20 p.m.

The Russian military insists that no air defense missile systems have ever been sent from Russia to Ukraine, as the Dutch-led investigation into the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 has stated.

Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov argued Wednesday that the investigators’ conclusions raise doubts, claiming they were based on information from the internet and Ukrainian special services.

The flight was downed on July 17, 2014, by a missile over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

Dutch-led investigators said Wednesday it was downed by a Buk missile from an area controlled by Russia-backed separatists. They said the launcher had been brought in from Russia and was later returned back to Russia.

Konashenkov denied that, saying “Russian missile defense systems, including Buk, have never crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border.”

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5:10 p.m.

The Russian maker of the Buk air defense missile system is contesting the conclusions of the Dutch-led investigation into the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Mikhail Malyshevsky, an adviser to the director of the state-controlled Almaz-Antei consortium, said an analysis of the plane’s shrapnel-ridden fragments show that it couldn’t have been downed by a missile launched from a rebel-controlled area in eastern Ukraine.

He said the missile likely came from an area that Russian officials have previously described as Ukraine-controlled.

The flight was shot down on July 17, 2014, over war-torn eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

Dutch-led criminal investigators on Wednesday presented the results of a two-year probe. They say MH17 was downed from an area in eastern Ukraine that was controlled by Russia-backed separatists with a missile from a Buk launcher. They said the launcher had been brought in from Russia and was later returned back to Russia.

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4:50 p.m.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry says a Dutch-led criminal investigation into the downing of a Malaysian is “biased and politically motivated.”

Wilbert Paulissen, head of the Central Crime Investigation department of the Dutch National Police, said Wednesday that communications intercepts showed that MH17 was shot down from an area in eastern Ukraine controlled by Russia-backed separatists with a missile from a Buk launcher. He said the launcher had been brought in from Russian territory and returned back to Russia later.

The conclusions were billed as results of a two-year Dutch-led criminal probe of the July 17, 2014, downing that claimed all 298 lives on the plane.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says the Dutch-led probe has ignored evidence offered by Russia and allowed Ukraine to manipulate the evidence and shape anti-Russian conclusions.

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4:30 p.m.

Ukrainian officials say the Dutch-led team’s findings prove Russia’s complicity in the tragedy of the downing of MH17.

A deadly surface-to-air weapon blasted Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 out of the sky at 33,000 feet, killing all 298 people aboard on July 17, 2014. Dutch investigators say the missile was launched from farmland in the rebel-held area of Pervomaiskiy, 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne.

“A new and very important element in today’s report is the information about the route by which the weapon came from Russia to Ukraine and was removed in the opposite direction through part of the Ukrainian-Russian border that was controlled only by Russia and their militants,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister said in a statement. “This again points to the direct involvement of the aggressor state in the downing of the aircraft.”

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12:20 p.m.

Russia has consistently denied allegations that pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine were responsible for downing the passenger plane.

On Monday, the Russian military said it has new radio-location data that showed the missile that downed the Boeing 777 did not originate from rebel-controlled territory, and said it would turn that data over to investigators.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated that assertion on Wednesday ahead of the Dutch report.

“If there was a rocket, it could only have been launched from a different area,” he told reporters, referring to Russian radar data. “You can’t argue with it. It can’t be discussed.”

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10:40 a.m.

Dutch-led criminal investigators say they have solid evidence that a Malaysian jet was shot down in 2014 by a Buk missile that was moved into eastern Ukraine from Russia.

Wilbert Paulissen, head of the Central Crime Investigation department of the Dutch National Police, said communications intercepts showed that pro-Moscow rebels had called for deployment of the mobile surface-to-air weapon and reported its arrival on July 17, 2014, in rebel-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine.

The deadly surface-to-air weapon that blasted Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 out of the sky at 33,000 feet, killing all 298 people aboard, was launched that day from farmland in the rebel-held area of Pervomaiskiy, 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne, the investigation found.

Witnesses there reported an explosion and a whistling sound and a patch of field was set on fire.

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