A finger-pointing blame game between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian government has surfaced over the crashed Malaysian plane MH17, after it was reported “shot down” over eastern Ukraine.
But by who?
Ukrainian authorities have accused “terrorists” of using a ground-to-air missile – the term the Kiev government uses for militants seeking to unite eastern Ukraine with Russia.
Anton Gerashchenko – a Ukrainian interior ministry official, said on Facebook that MH17 was “shot down with a Buk anti-aircraft system by terrorists.”
The crash site is near the city of Donetsk – about 40 km from the Russian border. It is an area where pro-Russian rebels have been active and have claimed to have shot down other aircraft.
Australian PM Tony Abbott has also lashed out at Russia, and said “Russian-backed rebels” were behind the disaster.
“Malaysian airlines MH17 has been shot down over the eastern Ukraine, it seems by Russian-backed rebels,” he said.
Abbott added that it was no accident that rebels armed with Russian-made military hardware capable of shooting down passenger jets would use them for that purpose.
“This is no light thing. This is not something that can just be dismissed as a tragic accident when you have Russian proxies using Russian-supplied equipment to do terrible things,” Abbott told 3AW, a radio station based in Melbourne.
The rebels have, on the other hand, denied responsibility.
Separatist leader Aleksander Borodai blamed the plane crash on the country’s government forces.
“Apparently, it’s a passenger airliner indeed, truly shot down by the Ukrainian Air Force,” Borodai told Russia’s state-run Rossiya 24 TV broadcaster.
Rebels have denied that they had shot the plane down, saying they did not have weapons capable of shooting down a plane at such a height.
A separatist rebel told Reuters: “This could happen only if it was a fighter jet or a surface-to-air missile (that shot it down).”
Meanwhile, Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten pointed out: “The missile that brought down MH17 and the missiles that have claimed numerous other Ukrainian aircraft could not possibly be made by the people who have possibly fired them.
“These separatist terrorists are obtaining these instruments of murder from elsewhere,” he said.