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Ukraine Says Rebels Mistook Doomed Flight MH17 for Aeroflot Plane

Published: August 9, 2014 (Issue # 1823)



  • Ukraine has claimed that pro-Moscow separatists downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 after mistaking it for a Russian Aeroflot plane that they supposedly wanted to shoot down to provide Moscow with a pretext for invading Ukraine.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Ukraine has claimed that pro-Moscow separatists downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 after mistaking it for a Russian Aeroflot plane that they supposedly wanted to shoot down to provide Moscow with a pretext for invading Ukraine.

The latest theory in an array of conflicting claims about the possible causes of the MH17 downing came as head of NATO urged Russia to "step back from the brink," and seems aimed at underscoring fears of a possible Russian invasion.

Ukrainian Security Service head Valentyn Nalyvaichenko said Thursday that separatists had intended to hit an Aeroflot airliner that was headed from Moscow to Larnaca, Cyprus, and whose flight path passed close to that of the Malaysian jet.

Separatists were "ordered" to position a Buk anti-aircraft missile near the village of Pervomaisk in eastern Ukraine, but because the fighters were Russian, not local, they confused two settlements with the same name and less than 100 kilometers apart, Nalyvaichenko said in a statement by his agency.

The error was crucial in two regards, according to Nalyvaichenko: It brought the fighters under the flight path of MH17, instead of Aeroflot, and also meant that the missile was fired from rebel-controlled territory instead of the other village located in a region controlled by government troops, he said.

"From the location that had been intended originally, the Aeroflot passenger plane was to be hit so that it would have fallen on territory controlled by the armed forces," Nalyvaichenko was quoted as saying by Ukraine's Liga Novosti news agency.

"This terrorist attack was cynically planned as a pretext for the beginning of overt aggression over the massive loss of life of innocent Russians," he was quoted as saying.

The security service statement also said that the agency's investigation indicated that a Russian invasion had been planned to begin on July 18 — the day after the downing of the plane — but because of the error, the plan was supposedly revised.

With Russia's troops massed at the border, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Thursday warned Moscow to "step back from the brink" or face "deeper, more profound, tougher" sanctions if Russia interferes further.

"Step back from the border. Do not use peacekeeping as an excuse for war-making," Rasmussen said during a visit to Kiev, according to a transcript released by NATO.

The Western defense alliance had previously warned that Russia had about 20,000 combat-ready troops lined up on Ukraine's eastern border and could invade Ukraine, citing a peacekeeping mission as a pretext.

After Russia initiated an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council meeting on what it said was the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine this week, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said the alliance shares the "concern that Russia could use the pretext of a humanitarian or peacekeeping mission as an excuse to send troops into eastern Ukraine."





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of today’s seminar is “Grammar Practice.”


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at “Professional Growth,” a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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