The U.S. intelligence agencies have evidence that the Malaysian aircraft downed in Ukraine was struck by a ground-to-air missile, Wall Street Journal online publication said, referring to a U.S. official.
Defense analyst at London-based IHS Jane's Military & Security Assessments Intelligence Centre, Nick de Larrinaga said the shoulder-fired missiles typically used by separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine would not be able to hit a passenger aircraft flying at normal cruising altitude. Such weapons have shot down several Ukrainian helicopters and aircraft. He said a commercial aircraft would, however, have been in range of surface-to-air missile systems such as the Buk or alternatively the Russian-made S-300. "Both Russia and Ukraine have such SAM systems in their inventories," the expert said. Besides, he said that the reports about civil plane crash in the flashpoint of combat actions in Ukraine are very alarming. However, it is too early to make conclusions about who is responsible for the tragedy yet. As reported, illegal armed groups are known to have had Buk surface-to-air missile systems, and one of them was seen in the center of the town of Snizhne, Donetsk region, near which the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 fell. Representatives of illegal armed groups had previously confirmed that they had Buk anti-aircraft missile systems, which are capable of hitting aerial targets at high altitude. The Security Service of Ukraine on Thursday released phone intercepts of conversations between illegal armed units, in which one of them reported that the rebels had shot down a passenger plane.