A Ukrainian newspaper has published what it said was recordings of phone conversations, firstly between Russian intelligence officers and secondly between separatist commanders, about a downed passenger jet believed to be the crashed flight MH17.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 carrying 298 people on board from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur had crashed in a war-zone in Ukraine yesterday, 50km from Russian border.
US intelligence officials say a missile struck the Boeing 777 jet but no one has claimed responsibility in the area where pro-Russian rebels are fighting Ukrainian forces.
The recordings have not been independently verified, The Daily Mail reported on its online portal.
In the first, Igor Bezler, who the Ukrainians claim is a Russian intelligence officer and leading commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, tells a commander: “We have just shot down a plane about ‘30 minutes ago’.”
In the second, more detailed recording, a rebel nicknamed “Major” says the Malaysian Airlines jet was shot down by “Cossacks from the Chernukhino roadblock” adding: “It is definitely a civilian plane… there was a lot of people on board.”
“Major” tells a comrade with the codename “Greek” it was “100% a passenger (civilian) aircraft”.
Greek asked: “What kind of aircraft?” to which Major responded: “I haven’t ascertained this. I haven’t been to the main site. I am only surveying the scene where the first bodies fell. There are the remains of internal brackets, seats and bodies.”
Greek, still hoping at that point a military craft had been downed, said: “Is there anything left of the weapon?”
Major: “Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.”
Greek: “Are there documents?”
Major: “Yes, of one Indonesian student. From a university in Thompson.”
Officials for the Obama administration, which had only yesterday stepped up sanctions against Russia for backing the separatists, confirmed the plane was hit by a single missile while at cruising speed.
US Vice-President Joe Biden said that “it was not an accident”, adding it was “blown out of the sky”.
Biden, who had talked with Ukrainian President Poroshenko on the phone, is the most senior US official to raise the idea that the aircraft was deliberately brought down, but he did not divulge who he thought was responsible, the Daily Mail reported.
But US Senator John McCain said there “would be hell to pay” if the plane was shot down by the Russian military or separatists.
“To leap to conclusions could be very embarrassing… But if it is the result of either separatist or Russian actions mistakenly believing this was a Ukrainian war plane, I think there’s going to be hell to pay and there should be,” he was quoted as saying by the British tabloid.
One of the voices is believed to be militia commander Igor Strelkov, who then penned a triumphant war cry on Twitter, saying: “We warned you – do not fly in ‘our sky’.”
It is believed that he thought he had brought down an Antonov-26 military plane of the Ukrainian Air Force. Later, when the horror became clear, the tweet was deleted.
The Malaysian government has immediately asked for an investigation into the crash, the second Boeing 777 plane that MAS has lost in four months.
The first was flight MH370 that mysteriously vanished while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8. The plane and 239 people on board have yet to be found. – July 18, 2014.—Malaysian Insider