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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

Thursday, Oct. 30


Dental-Expo St. Petersburg 2014 concludes today at Lenexpo. Welcoming specialists from throughout the federation, the forum is an opportunity for dentists to share tricks of the trade and peruse the most recent innovations in technology and equipment, with over 100 companies hocking their wares at the event.



Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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