News / Europe

Ukraine Rebel Commander Acknowledges Fighters Had BUK Missiles

FILE - Rebel commander Alexander Khodakovsky of the so-called Vostok battalion - or "Eastern" battalion - speaks during an interview in Donetsk, July 8, 2014.
FILE - Rebel commander Alexander Khodakovsky of the so-called Vostok battalion - or "Eastern" battalion - speaks during an interview in Donetsk, July 8, 2014.
Reuters

A powerful rebel leader in Ukraine has confirmed that pro-Russian separatists had an anti-aircraft missile of the type Washington says was used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and it could have originated in Russia.

In an interview with Reuters, Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the Vostok Battalion, acknowledged for the first time since the airliner was brought down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday that the rebels did possess the BUK missile system and said it could have been sent back subsequently to remove proof of its presence.

Before the Malaysian plane was shot down, rebels had boasted of obtaining the BUK missiles, which can shoot down airliners at cruising height. But since the disaster the separatists' main group, the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk, has repeatedly denied ever having possessed such weapons.

Since the airliner crashed with the loss of all 298 on board, the most contentious issue has been who fired the missile that brought the jet down in an area where government forces are fighting pro-Russian rebels.

Accusing Kyiv

Khodakovsky accused the Kyiv authorities for provoking what may have been the missile strike that destroyed the doomed airliner, saying Kyiv had deliberately launched air strikes in the area, knowing the missiles were in place.

I knew that a BUK came from Luhansk. At the time I was told that a BUK from Luhansk was coming under the flag of the LNR,” he said, referring to the Luhansk People's Republic, the main rebel group operating in Luhansk, one of two rebel provinces along with Donetsk, the province where the crash took place.

“That BUK I know about. I heard about it. I think they sent it back. Because I found out about it at exactly the moment that I found out that this tragedy had taken place. They probably sent it back in order to remove proof of its presence,” Khodakovsky told Reuters on Tuesday.

“The question is this: Ukraine received timely evidence that the volunteers (rebels) have this technology, through the fault of Russia. It not only did nothing to protect security, but provoked the use of this type of weapon against a plane that was flying with peaceful civilians,” he said.

“They knew that this BUK existed; that the BUK was heading for Snizhne,” he said, referring to a village 10 km (six miles) west of the crash site. “They knew that it would be deployed there, and provoked the use of this BUK by starting an air strike on a target they didn't need, that their planes hadn't touched for a week.”

“And that day, they were intensively flying, and exactly at the moment of the shooting, at the moment the civilian plane flew overhead, they launched air strikes. Even if there was a BUK, and even if the BUK was used, Ukraine did everything to ensure that a civilian aircraft was shot down.”

Civilian flight

Eileen Lainez, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said Khodakovsky's remarks confirmed what U.S. officials had long been saying, that “Russian-backed separatists have received arms, training and support from Russia.”

But she dismissed the rebel leader's efforts to blame the Kyiv government for the downing of the airliner, calling it “another attempt to try to muddy the water and move the focus from facts.”

Washington believes that pro-Russian separatists most likely shot down the airliner “by mistake,” not realizing it was a civilian passenger flight, U.S. intelligence officials said.

The officials said the “most plausible explanation” for the destruction of the plane was that the separatists fired a Russian-made SA-11 - also known as a BUK - missile at it after mistaking it for another kind of aircraft.

“While we may not yet know who actually fired the missile, we have assessed that it was an SA-11 and that it came from a Russian-backed separatist-controlled area,” Lainez said.

U.S. President Barack Obama's administration has said it is convinced the airliner was brought down by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired from territory in eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

Other separatist leaders have said they did not bring the Malaysian plane down. Russia has denied involvement.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Vasya from: Bermuds
July 24, 2014 3:16 PM
Khodakovsky? Oh my God, it is that traitor who killed dozens of rebels in Donetsk airport and near the Russian-Ukrainian border. He was removed from any political jobs in Donetsk and now just a traitor with some people. Most of the soldiers of Vostok batallion have left it. So now he can talk everything he wants, his life is counted in months or even days. Traitors dont live much.


by: Hong Ha from: Viet Nam
July 24, 2014 12:32 AM
I am totally fed up with the news from VOA, BBC, CNN and some others. At first I thought they are trusted and fair. But then I have soon found out that their news are highly politicall motivated for the goals of their government. In many cases the truth is twisted and in many other cases they simply cover any facts that do not serve their purposes. This is the 21th century and their action is a shame to mass media!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid