MOSCOW, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- The Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday its data confirms that, if Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down in 2014, Ukrainian forces did it.
The information comes days before an expected report from the Joint Investigation Team's criminal investigation, led by the Dutch prosecutor's office. The Boeing 777 was traveling over Ukrainian air space to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam on July 17, 2014, when it crashed, killing 298 people.
At the time, the crash area was the scene of fighting between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian rebels, and preliminary indications by the Dutch Safety Board suggest a Russian-made BUK missile struck the plane.
Maj. Gen. Andrei Koban, head of Russian Air and Space Forces, said Monday radar data indicated no missile was fired from east of the crash site in rebel-held Ukraine. His reference to the east refers to Russia and rebel-held eastern Ukraine.
"Once again we need to emphasize that no aerial objects approached the aircraft from the east before its disintegration including from the village of Snizhne. Had the Malaysian liner been downed with a missile launched from any area east of the crash site, the Russian radar would have identified it," Koban said.
Russia has been critical of Ukraine for not releasing its own radar data; Kiev has previously said its radar was not operational at the time of the crash.
"The fact that Ukrainian authorities have still not published the information they have, we can concluded that if it was a BUK that was launched at the [plane], this must have been launched from a location with the Ukrainian forces," Koban said.