FILE - Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu listens during a security conference in Moscow, May 23, 2014.
FILE - Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu listens during a security conference in Moscow, May 23, 2014.

Russia's defense minister says Ukraine bears "full responsibility" for the deadly crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 because the incident occurred in Ukrainian aispace.

Sergei Shoigu made his remarks during a meeting Wednesday in Moscow with Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

Western governments have accused Russia of providing pro-Russian separatists with a surface-to-air missile battery that downed the plane in eastern Ukraine.  Russia has repeatedly denied involvement.

All 298 people aboard the airline died in the July 17 crash.

A preliminary report released Tuesday on the incident said the plane broke up in mid-air over eastern Ukraine after being hit by many "high-energy objects" that penetrated it.

The document from Dutch investigators stops short of placing blame for the disaster.  But the U.S. State Department said it "highlights questions for which Russia still must answer."

The report said there is no evidence the crash was caused by a technical malfunction and no indication that the experienced flight crew was at fault.  It said ground wreckage suggests "the aircraft shattered into pieces during the flight."

It also said there were no distress calls or electronic signals of plane malfunction ahead of the downing.

An analysis of the jet's cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder also showed nothing unusual in the moments before the crash.

The Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur flight was carrying mostly Dutch passengers. The Ukrainian government requested that the Netherlands carry out the investigation.

The ongoing probe has been dramatically slowed by fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces at and near the crash site.  The Associated Press reported Tuesday that chunks of fuselage with the airplane's logo were lined up alongside a rebel roadblock, along with books, magazines, a jump rope and a child's shoe. Investigators say human remains are still waiting to be retrieved.

The Dutch Safety Board said it hopes to produce a more complete report within about 10 months.