A senior Russian officer has claimed that a Ukrainian military jet was flying just a few kilometres from the Malaysian Airlines plane minutes before it was downed, while also refuting allegations that it had provided separatists with BUK missile launchers.
In a statement to a press conference today, Lieutenant-General Andrei Kartopolov said the Defence Ministry would like to know “why the military jet was flying along [the same civil aviation lines] at almost the same time and at the same level as a passenger plane.”
The SU-25 was, Mr Kartopolov says, gaining height and reached a distance of three to five kilometres from the Boeing 777.
Mr Kartopolov, a senior member of the Russian military forces, said that Ukraine’s claims that no military jet operated near the site of the crash last Thursday are “false.”
He told the room that the jets “can briefly climb up to 10,000metres [and are] regularly equipped with air-to-air missiles R-60 that can capture and destroy targets of a distance up to 12km and up to 5km as guaranteed.”
Russian officials say they have evidence of the jet’s presence following images taken by the Rostov monitoring centre, and has urged the US to release satellite images taken at the time of the crash.
"According to the statement by the US representative, they have some pictures from space that confirm that the missiles were launched by the rebels. By nobody has seen these shots," Mr Kartopolov added.
He said that a US satellite was present over Ukraine territory at the time of the crash and and would like American authorities to release these images to the "world community for further investigation."
The audience was shown graphics and video that purport to be three civilian aircrafts flying at the same time at MH17, including a Copenhagen to Singapore flight.
“Ukrainian officials reported that on the day of the Boeing 777 crash there were no military aircraft available in the region, so as you can see, this doesn’t appear to be true.”
He said that Ukraine had self-propelled, anti-aircraft BUK missile launchers 8km north-western from Lugansk, close to the territory controlled by the rebels and that images show it was present on 14 July, but absent on 17 July.
He also denied that the Russian military had supplied pro-Moscow rebels with any weapons, according to journalists tweeting from the meeting.
Kiev stresses that its military has not used surface-to-air missiles. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said its "Defense Ministry will provide complete information about the whereabouts of all air defense missiles."
In a statement on the Ukrainian government's website, it said it was committed to a "broad and deep international investigation of the MH17 disaster."
COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? email@example.com