KUALA LUMPUR, July 20:
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said it was initiating criminal proceedings in relation to the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which it has labelled as a “terrorist act”, citing Article 258 of its Criminal Code.
However, it also revealed that the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) had on the morning of July 17 received reliable information that pro-Russia separatists, the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), had acquired surface-to-air missiles capabilities.
Although the Ukrainian government issued a directive for commercial flights to fly above 9,700 metres, MH17 was shot down later that evening after flying on a route approved by international air traffic organisations and was apparently directed by Ukrainian Air Traffic control to fly at a height of 10,000 metres.
The BUK-M system falls under a class of self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile systems which are able to engage targets at an altitude of between 11,000 and 25,000 metres.
“In the morning of July 17, the day of a tragedy, the SSU CI acquired reliable information that capabilities of at least one BUK-M system with a crew were available to DNR militants.
“They were moved across the state border from Russia in the vicinity of Sukhodolsk at approximately 1am.
“The crew comprised Russian military who immediately committed the terrorist act,” claimed the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry in a statement earlier this morning.
It claimed that apart from the BUK-M system, the DNR had also received three GVOZDIKA self-propelled mobile artillery from Russia.
The Russian Defence Ministry had previously denied that any such weapons had crossed their borders and insisted that the Ukrainian military deployed several BUK batteries in the Donetsk Region where MH17 was shot down.
Regarding the initiation of criminal proceedings, the Ukranian Foreign Ministry, claims the SSU has evidence proving that the plane was shot down by pro-Russia separatists, which they have labelled as “Russia-coordinated terrorists”.
“Their telephone conversations corroborating this statement are available on the SSU segment of YouTube in English, French, German, Polish, Japanese, Spanish, Italian and Turkish.
“In particular, intercepted telephone conversations enable to state that Boeing 777 was shot down by the Donetsk People’s Republic terrorists with a BUK-M anti-aircraft missile system which was moved from Russia,” claimed the ministry.
Ukraine said their Security Service and the State Border Guard Service detained two Russian citizens with Russian passports who were attempting to cross the Ukrainian state border.
“A military ID that belonged to one of them was seized, the card says that his military specialty is a ‘centerer’.
“According to the radio intercepted telephone conversations between Donetsk separatists’ leader Strelok and his Russian supervisor, terrorists have GRAD multiple rocket launcher systems, but they cannot use them as they lack ‘centerers’.”
It was learnt that a request was made to Russia for these specialists and the Russian supervisor assured Strelok that he had already sent two technicians who were expected to arrive from Russia, claimed the ministry.
They also claimed that two Ukrainians were detained after law enforcement searched their car and found landmines for mining infrastructure facilities and roads.
“The detainees confessed that for financial remuneration, they were supposed to mine Kramatorsk-Sloviansk road, along which Ukrainian Armed Forces’ military hardware moves,” said the statement.