United States intelligence officials say they have no evidence of direct involvement by the Russian government in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
However, they said Russia “created the conditions” for the likely downing of the passenger jet by Kremlin-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
An SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by the rebels may have felled the airliner enroute from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, the report said.
The officials briefed reporters Tuesday on the condition their names not be used in discussing intelligence related to last week’s disaster which killed 298 people.
They said they did not know if any Russians were present at the missile launch and whether the missile crew was trained in Russia.
A senior official said the most likely explanation was the plane was shot down by mistake, the report said.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Netherlands will take the lead in the crash investigation but investigators still hadn’t arrived at the site by Tuesday as fighting raged in the region.
Five days after the crash it remains unclear how effective investigators could be with a Ukrainian military offensive under way in the area, scant security at the crash site and allegations of evidence-tampering on the ground.
The remains of hundreds of victims were transported in five refrigerated train wagons from the rebel-held area to the government-held city of Kharkiv, where they came under the custody of a multinational forensics team.
The bodies will be flown on Wednesday to the Dutch city of Eindhoven and to a military base southeast of Amsterdam for identification, the report said.
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