A photograph released by Russian television channels purportedly shows a Ukrainian fighter plane shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Many say the photograph is fake and just a propaganda effort to curb rumors about Russia’s involvement in the incident, USA Today reported Saturday.
Russia’s Chanel One and Rossiya television stations said they received the satellite photograph in an email Friday, purportedly showing a Ukrainian fighter jet shooting an air-to-air missile at MH17 over eastern Ukraine, USA Today said.
This is contrary to a preliminary report issued by Dutch investigators in September that concluded the plane’s crash was likely due to multiple “high-energy objects.” Dutch prosecutor Fred Westerbeke told Reuters last month: “A ground-to-air missile is the most likely scenario.”
The U.S. State Department called the Russian reports “preposterous” and said the alleged photo was just another bid to “obfuscate the truth and ignore ultimate responsibility of the tragic downing of MH17,” USA Today said.
Multiple bloggers said the photograph is forged, pointing out cloud patterns that date the picture to 2012. Others commented while the doomed Malaysian airliner was a Boeing 777, the plane in the photo looks more like a Boeing 767, USA reported Saturday.
However, Russian television backed the claim and said the photograph came from the Russian Union of Engineers, a Moscow group that is a self-professed nongovernmental organization that previously published a paper citing evidence of Ukraine’s responsibility in the MH17 crash. In a televised interview, the group’s president said it received the image from a man who said he is a 20-year aviation expert with a degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA Today reported.
A Dutch-led investigation is still underway at the crash site in eastern Ukraine where the downed Malaysian commercial airliner landed in pieces July 17, killing all 298 people aboard. Many of the victims were Dutch citizens. A final report from the Dutch Safety Board is expected by the middle of next year.