Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that following the Malaysian Boeing crash in Donbass, probably shot down with a ground-to-air rocket, he checked three times information as to whether Ukraine had relevant weapons in the area of the tragedy.
All existing information on the tragedy has been requested from the General Staff head and the defense minister; it was checked three times that Ukraine did not have relevant weapons in this region and that no military activities were being carried out by Ukraine at the time, Poroshenko said on July 13 in an interview with Dutch news magazine Elsevier published on July 17.
According to Poroshenko, when this had been established, he held telephone talks the very same evening with Dutch, Australian and Malaysian Prime Ministers Mark Rutte, Anthony Abbott and Najib Razak, and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
The Ukrainian president said that after this he also called U.S. President Barack Obama. At first, he reacted very coldly to this information and wanted his staff to check whether Ukraine was involved in the tragedy - at that moment, this bothered him the most, the Ukrainian president said. After Obama made sure of everything, his reaction was completely different, Poroshenko said.
The Ukrainian president said that several days after the crash he talked on the telephone with Dutch King Willem-Alexander. This was a very emotional conversation for both parties, he said.
When asked whether he tried to get in touch with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Poroshenko said that he did not because the tragedy was yet further proof of Russia's aggression and during previous weeks and months Russia had supplied weapons to 'terrorists'; moreover it was absolutely clear in the days ahead of the July 17 tragedy that Russian officers were directly involved in the conflict.
For example, a rocket attack on Ukrainian servicemen from Russia occurred on July 11 and two Ukrainian military planes were brought down the very same week, including an AN-26 transport jet delivering water and food for the Ukrainian army, Poroshenko said. They were flying at an altitude of approximately 5.5km, and though this is quite high they could in theory have been shot down by a mobile anti-air complex. Ukraine considered an altitude of over 6km to be safe, he said.
Poroshenko said he had no doubt that Russia handed over the Buk surface-to-air missile system, with which the plane flying at an altitude of 10km was supposedly shot down, so Russia carries at the very least part of responsibility for the tragedy of July 17, the newspaper said.
Following the tragedy, militia did not grant access to the crash site to Ukraine, did not cease fire, and one or two Ukrainian rescuers were injured, Poroshenko said.
Rescuers from Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk and Zaporizhia were sent to the crash site; the area was under fire from 'terrorists' at the time and one or two representatives of rescue teams were injured, the Ukrainian president said. Immediate ceasefire within a 10km radius of the catastrophe had already been proposed then but Moscow and the 'terrorists' did not want to hear about this proposal, he said. Ukraine also sent a train with refrigeration carriages to the crash site in order to preserve bodies but the 'terrorists' supported by Russia simply did not let it through, the Ukrainian president said.
At the same time, officers of Russian special services arrived at the scene to retrieve the MH17 flight data recorders, Poroshenko said. Ukraine has exact information that upon obtaining these 'black boxes', the Russians tried to perform certain actions on them to baffle investigators, he said. Poroshenko said he was worried, even more so since they already had access to a large scope of wreckage and the remains of the rocket which shot down MH17.
According to Poroshenko, Kyiv was to behave cautiously because it was responsible for the investigation into the causes of the catastrophe. Ukraine used its right at once and handed over investigative management to the Netherlands, since Dutch citizens accounted for the largest share of those killed in the crash, he said.
The catastrophe brought Ukraine and the rest of Europe closer together, not least because the position in which Ukraine now found itself is understood everywhere, the Ukrainian president said.
Kiev is seeking to form an international tribunal in the UN Security Council to hold liable those responsible for shooting down MH17, Poroshenko said.
It has been reported that the Malaysia Airlines Boeing-777 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala-Lumpur crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. It had 298 people on board, all of whom died. There were 192 Dutch citizens (one of them had U.S. citizenship as well), 44 Malaysian citizens (including 15 crew members), 27 Australian citizens, 12 citizens of Indonesia, 10 British citizens (one also had citizenship of South Africa), four Germans, four Belgians, three citizens of Philippines, one Canadian and one citizen of New Zealand. According to the main version of events, the plane was shot down in the area of the armed conflict in Donbass.
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