MOSCOW — The Russian military is reiterating its position that it is not to blame for the deadly crash that killed 298 people, and is using its radar data to point to the Ukrainian military.
The MH17was in the engagement zone of at least three Buk-M1 (SA-11 Gadfly) batteries of the Ukrainian armed forces in the last stage of its flight, which ended with the deadly crash near Donetsk on July 17, according to intelligence data provided by the Russian defense ministry
According to the map and traffic control data shown by the Russian military, Flight MH17 followed an international air route eastbound through Eastern Ukraine. Near Donetsk, the aircraft left the corridor to the north by 14 km from its left edge. Later the aircraft turned to the right, back to the air route, but failed to reach it. According to the ministry, radars detected the aircraft’s speed drop at 17:20 (Moscow time) and lost it at 17:23.
Ukraine’s air defense near Donetsk was strengthened on July 17, according to Lt. Gen. Andrey Kartapolov, head of the main operations division of the Russian Armed Forces’ General Staff. According to satellite images, an additional Buk battery was deployed on that day near Zaroshchinskoe, 50 km east of Donetsk and 8 km south of Shakhtersk. The satellite images made on July 18 shows that this battery left these positions the next day.
Kartapolov also pointed out the increased activity of Kupol-M1 radars (Tube Arm, under NATO designation) that provide target detection for Buks. The number of stations active in this area grew from seven to nine during July 15 to 17, then dropped to four stations on July 18, and to just two on July 19, according to the ministry.
The Russian military adds that it detected another aircraft at 17:21 ascending toward the Malaysian airlines777 at a distance of 3-5 km. It was monitored by two radar stations for four minutes and was not equipped with a secondary identification system. Kartapolov says it was a Ukrainian air force Sukhoi Su-25 ground attack aircraft. He stressed that the "Su-25 is capable of reaching the altitude of 10,000 meters for a short time" (the aircraft’s service ceiling is 7,000 meters). The aircraft’s weaponry includes the R-60 (AA-8 Aphid) air-to-air missile capable of striking targets at a distance up to 12 km, the military official says
According to the radar data, the Su-25 continued to patrol the area after the Boeing 777 crashed. Ukrainian officials have denied that military aircraft flew there on that day.