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Russian authority claims MH17 inquiry findings 'unsubstantiated'

Russian authorities have formally communicated to Dutch investigators concerns that the inquiry into the loss of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 contains several contradictions and discrepancies.

The Dutch Safety Board concluded that the Boeing 777-200ER was shot down by a Russian-built Buk surface-to-air missile over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014.

But Russian federal air transport authority Rosaviatsia’s deputy director, Oleg Storchevoy, has sent a 12-page document to the inquiry claiming that additional analysis, by Russian specialists, indicates that a number of conclusions in the final report are “unsubstantiated and inaccurate”.

This additional work has included a full-scale static experiment in which an Ilyushin Il-86 cockpit was destroyed by a 9M38-series missile, of the type installed on Buk launchers.

The document claims that, “even assuming the aircraft was brought down by a Buk”, the description of fragments in the inquiry report “does not match” that of pre-formed fragments in a 9N314M warhead – the type used against MH17, according to the Dutch Safety Board.

It adds that the inquiry’s description of the penetration damage in the wreckage is inconsistent with that caused by such a warhead and that the fragment spray does not match the identified detonation position.

At least one missile fragment located at the crash site does not match the appearance of encasing fragments from a 9M38-series surface-to-air weapon, it claims, and the proximity fuse algorithm of the missile does “not agree” with the engagement conditions.

It shrugs off conclusions based on matching paint samples and explosives traces, as well as those about the area from which the missile was launched.

The document also claims there is “no evidence” that two Ukrainian military aircraft – an Antonov An-26 and Sukhoi Su-25 – were brought down in mid-July by heavy air-defence systems.

It insists that the final report “unfairly obscures the issue of liability” by “shifting the blame” from Ukrainian authorities to airlines and ICAO. The Ukrainian authorities did not issue any NOTAM which would have “unambiguously” indicated a threat to civil aviation, it says, adding that they “should have closed” the airspace over the conflict zone as early as April 2014.

Storchevoy’s communication states that the Russian authorities intend to comment separately on the recommendations for civil aviation safety presented in the MH17 final report.

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