Ukraine PM blames MH17 downing on Russian security service
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on Tuesday blamed Russia's security service for last year's downing of the MH17 airliner over pro-Kremlin separatist territory in the east of the ex-Soviet state, AFP reports.
"I personally have no doubt that this was a planned operation of the Russian special services aimed at downing a civilian aircraft," Yatsenyuk told a televised cabinet meeting.
Russia blames Ukrainian forces for downing the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 on July 17, 2014.
All 298 people -- most of them Dutch and including some 80 children -- died in a disaster that has seen most Western nations place the blame squarely on the militia and the alleged military backing provided to them by the Kremlin.
"We are certain that this (operation) was conducted from territory that was only under the Russian fighters' control," said the hawkish cabinet leader.
"And there is also no doubt that drunk separatists do not know how to use these BUK systems," Yatsenyuk said in reference to the missile believed to have blown the jet out of the sky.
"This means that these systems were operated only by trained Russian servicemen."
Russia denies any link to the insurgents and calls the Ukraine's 18-month conflict a "civil war".
The Dutch Safety Board is expected to conclude later Tuesday that the airliner was down by a Russian-made BUK missile.
But the Dutch inquiry will not assign blame for the disaster and only provide details of the crash.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte by phone that he hoped a separate criminal inquiry would finally draw conclusions enabling an international tribunal to prosecute the culprits in the coming months.
"Petro Poroshenko stressed that the completion and publication of the technical investigation is an important step in our search for, and prosecution of, of all those responsible for this terrible crime," the Ukrainian president's website said in a statement.
"They agreed that the final decision about how such a mechanism is applied will be based on the results of the criminal investigation, which is being conducted jointly by Ukraine, the Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia and Belgium," Poroshenko's website quoted the pro-Western leader as telling Rutte.