On Monday, President Obama wondered aloud what pro-Russian separatists were “trying to hide” following the downing of a civilian jetliner in eastern Ukraine. On Tuesday, U.S. intelligence officials said it was their responsibility for the crash, which killed all 298 people on board.
The new intel concluded that separatists likely struck the plane down mistake. U.S. officials said they found no evidence of direct Russian government involvement in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
The Associated Press reports:
They say the passenger jet was likely felled by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine and that Russia “created the conditions” for the downing by arming the separatists.
The officials likely mean that Russia “created the conditions” preceding the plane crash by fomenting civil unrest in eastern Ukraine, a region that has been locked in turmoil since Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed the Crimean peninsula in March. But a primary part of Russia’s support in the insurrection has come in the form of heavy-duty weapons, which could have included missiles such as the one that shot down MH17.
U.S. officials told the AP on Tuesday that they don’t know whether any Russians were present at the missile launch. They also would not say whether the separatists who pulled the trigger were trained in Russia.
One U.S. intelligence official told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that Russia has continued to supply separatists in eastern Ukraine with tanks and rocket launchers after last week’s crash. “We don’t think they have stopped,” the official said. “We think they continue to do it.”
At least for now, these Russian-generated “conditions” aren’t going away.
What We're Following See More »
"Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who wrote the explosive dossier alleging ties between Donald Trump and Russia," says in a new book by The Guardian's Luke Harding that "Trump's land and hotel deals with Russians needed to be examined. ... Steele did not go into further detail, Harding said, but seemed to be referring to a 2008 home sale to the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev. Richard Dearlove, who headed the UK foreign-intelligence unit MI6 between 1999 and 2004, said in April that Trump borrowed money from Russia for his business during the 2008 financial crisis."
"The British publicist who helped set up the fateful meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians at Trump Tower in June 2016 is ready to meet with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's office, according to several people familiar with the matter. Rob Goldstone has been living in Bangkok, Thailand, but has been communicating with Mueller's office through his lawyer, said a source close to Goldstone."
"Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak said on Wednesday that it would take him more than 20 minutes to name all of the Trump officials he's met with or spoken to on the phone. ... Kislyak made the remarks in a sprawling interview with Russia-1, a popular state-owned Russian television channel."