Russia has responded to claims it is responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, reportedly claiming that it has flight records showing a Ukranian fighter jet was close to the passenger jet before it crashed.
At a specially called briefing, Russian Lieutenant-General Andrey Kartopolov said MH17 had strayed from its regular route and had been recorded in the proximity of a Ukranian SU-25 fighter jet, which is equipped with air-to-air missiles.
“An altitude gain was recorded for a Ukrainian armed forces plane," he said, adding that the fighter jet is capable of reaching a height of 10,000 metres.
"Its distance from the Malaysian Boeing was three to five kilometres."
“With what aim was a military plane flying along a civilian aviation route practically at the same time and at the same flight level as a passenger liner? We would like to receive an answer to this question.”
General Kartopolov further claimed that the Russian Defence Ministry had detected a significant reduction in Ukranian radar stations after the accident.
Citing data displayed on slides and charts, General Kartopolov claimed that nine radar stations, which are used to operate missile systems, were operating close to the site of the MH17 crash on the day of the tragedy. Within 48 hours, only two remained.
He strongly denied supplying Buk missile systems to Ukranian separatists, which has been widely speculated across the world.
“I want to stress that Russia did not give the rebels Buk missile systems or any other kinds of weapons or military hardware.”
Elsewhere, US network NBC reported that a report on Russia's Channel One claimed the CIA was to blame for the shooting down of MH17.