Russia military: BUK missile shot down MH17

MH17 wreckage
Investigators begin recovery of Malaysia Airlines MH17 wreckage in Ukraine, Nov. 16, 2014 (ArnoldGreidanus/Twitter). (Investigators begin recovery of Malaysia Airlines MH17 wreckage in Ukraine, Nov. 16, 2014 (ArnoldGreidanus/Twitter))

With reporting by Zack Newmark.

Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta claims to have obtained a confidential analytical report on the MH17 crash that suggests it was a BUK-M1 missile that shot down the plane. The newspaper believes it is likely a report by official Russian military experts, and will be submitted to Dutch and international experts investigating the crash.

The stance would mark a massive shift for the Russian government, which has tried to place blame on a Ukrainian fighter jet's air-to-air missile for the explosive crash that left 298 people dead. The full report was made available in the Russian language to the newspaper’s readers, the paper says.

An analysis of the damage to the plane’s exterior and interior was used to determine the type of missile, the angle of shrapnel impact and, based on that, the supposed launch point. The report says the missile in question was probably a BUK-M1, in use by multiple armies in the region.

The missile was launched to intentionally “cross the trajectory of the plane,” the report states. “This is only possible when the object’s trajectory is targeted.”

Experts argue that the launch took place near Zaroshchenske in the Donetsk region of Eastern Ukraine at the time controlled by the Ukrainian military, the published document shows. They also propose that at that location the Ukrainian army stationed their BUK missiles, sourcing Russian space intelligence on the information.

The report generally presents its findings in an evidentiary manner, but shifts its tone when speaking about the missile’s launch point.

It states that a possible launch was also modelled from near Snizhne “that features in many ‘investigations’ based on ‘reliable data’ from the internet and unsubstantiated claims that rebels could possess BUK missiles.” No other launch point would explain the impact angle and the damage caused to the plane, according to the report.

Still, no blame is assigned to the Ukraine in the report's conclusion, which includes a summary of findings.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 took off from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on July 17 with 283 passengers and 15 crew members, of which 196 people onboard were Dutch citizens. The Boeing 777 was destined for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, but fell from the sky over the Donetsk region, where intense fighting was ongoing between the Ukraine and a Russian-backed separatist army.

The Dutch government announced the official ending of a difficult recovery mission in April after investigators reached a portion of the debris field that was previously unreachable due to both poor weather and the conflict. The last aircraft with human remains returned to Eindhoven Air Base over the weekend, 290 days after the crash.

Update, 11:10 a.m., 6 May 2015: Adds quotes from the report about the missile's target and the launch location;
Update, 10:45 a.m., 6 May 2015: Background on MH17 added;