US: Pro-Russian separatists likely responsible for downing plane; Russians probably helped them

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told the UN Security Council today that US believes the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet shot down yesterday over eastern Ukraine was likely shot down by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile located in territory controlled by Russian-backed rebels.

Power added that the US could not rule out the possibility that the Russians taught the rebels how to use the system in order to shoot planes out of the sky.

US intelligence, according to CNN, increasingly believes that the missiles were supplied to the rebels by Russia itself.

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The Pentagon just said, moments ago, that “it is a sophisticated piece of technology, and it strains credulity to think that it could be used by separatists without at least some measure of Russian support and technical assistance.”

As you know, the passenger jet contained 298 people, over 100 of whom were reportedly on their way to the annual international AIDS conference, taking place this year in Melbourne, Australia.

Among the passengers killed, 154 Dutch, 27 Australians, 23 Malaysians, 11 Indonesians, 6 Brits, 4 Germans, and 4 Belgians, among others.

Russian-backed separatist leaders bragged yesterday on social media that they had in fact shot the plane down. After it was discovered that the plane was in fact civilian, and not military, the Russian operative then deleted his confession, but not before I and others grabbed a copy.

CNN added that, “a U.S. defense official said a preliminary classified U.S. intelligence analysis had concluded that the missile that hit Flight 17 most likely was fired by pro-Russian separatists inside eastern Ukraine.”

This was a key point that came up yesterday — regardless of how the rebels got the missiles, they’re apparently a rather complicated system to operate. And thus, did the Russians sign on to, or come up with, the plan to shoot down planes over Ukrainian airspace, and then teach their surrogates to do just that?  If that’s the case, then this isn’t just a random mistake, it’s exactly what the Russians knew would happen, and wanted to happen. From reports I heard yesterday on the news, the Russians would have had to have known that while their rebels could shoot down any plane they wanted, it would be difficult for the rebels to discern whether the plane was civilian or military. But the Russians, it may turn out, simply didn’t care. Anything to create turmoil.

At the same time, Russia’s rebels have now reportedly opened fire on OSCE investigators, and are refusing to give the impartial investigators access to the wreckage.

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One assumes that, since the plane was likely shot down by Russian surrogates, Russia now wants to get the evidence, including the black box, and destroy it.

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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