MOSCOW, September 10 – Russia’s defence minister on Wednesday told his Malaysian counterpart that that Ukraine bore full responsibility for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash that left 298 dead.
“The crash happened in the airspace of Ukraine which bears full, total responsibility for what has happened,” Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told Hishammuddin Hussein, who was in Moscow to discuss the ongoing MH17 investigation.
“I am convinced that if Ukraine solved its domestic problems without the use of armed forces, without the bloodshed there over the past month, without the use of heavy artillery this tragedy would not have happened,” Shoigu said in televised remarks.
Hishammuddin arrived in Moscow a day after Dutch investigators released a preliminary report on the July 17 disaster
“I very much appreciate your patience,” he told Russian authorities, referring to the ongoing investigation.
Kiev and the West believe the Boeing 777, which plunged out of the sky en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was hit by a rebel surface to air missile supplied by Russia.
Moscow denies the claims, and points the finger at Kiev.
Hishammuddin was also due to meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin, Malaysia’s Moscow embassy and the Russian foreign ministry said.
“The visit will last less than a day,” a spokeswoman for the embassy said.
Hishammuddin was in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on Tuesday and will visit Amsterdam next, the spokeswoman added.
Dutch experts on Tuesday released initial findings in their probe into the crash, saying MH17 “broke up in the air probably as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside”.
While the report from the Dutch Safety Board does not apportion blame over the July air disaster, it could heighten Western pressure on Moscow over its role in the bloody Ukraine conflict.