Malaysia Airlines flight 17

United States presents fresh evidence on MH17 downing, but remains unsure on who fired missile

Officials release satellite information and intelligence on Ukraine rebels, but fail to determine who shot down flight MH17

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 July, 2014, 11:20pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 July, 2014, 8:11am

The Obama administration, detailing what it called evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of a Malaysian airliner, released satellite images and other sensitive intelligence that officials said proved Moscow had trained and equipped rebels in Ukraine responsible for the attack.

But the three officials who briefed the media said they still could not say they were certain who had done it and whether Russia had been involved.

The officials said they had ruled out involvement by Ukraine's military because its missiles were not within range of the Malaysian plane at the time it was brought down. "That is not a plausible scenario," said one senior US official.

Without disclosing classified information, the officials shared photos posted on social media of the crash site and what they described as missile movements across the Russia-Ukraine border.

The intelligence officials said they had seen an increasing volume of heavy weaponry crossing the border from Russia and that Russia had provided training to the rebels - some of them Russian citizens - including in the use of air-defence systems. They provided an aerial photo of a military facility outside the Russian city of Rostov, near the border with Ukraine, which they said had become a centre of training and weapons supplies for the separatists.

Analysts at the CIA and other US intelligence agencies are continuing to examine information about the crash.

"We are seeing a full-court press by the Russian government to instruct affiliated or friendly elements to manipulate the media environment to spread Russia's version of the story," one of the three officials said. "What this looks like again is a classic case of blaming the victims."

The US intelligence officials, who included experts on Russia's military and its relationship with separatists in Ukraine, said they did not know the identities or even the nationalities - whether Russian or possibly defectors from Ukraine's military - of those who had launched SA-11 surface-to-air missile.

Nor have US spy agencies reached any conclusions on the motive for the attack, except to say that the reaction among separatists recorded on social media indicates they believed they were targeting a Ukrainian plane.

Watch: OSCE team finds 'puncture marks' on MH17 fuselage

Officials said the rebels operating the missile battery may not have had access to systems designed to help distinguish military targets from civilian planes.

Meanwhile Dutch investigators said they have found no evidence the airliner's black box voice recorder had been tampered with.

"The cockpit voice recorder was damaged but the part that contains the data was intact," the Dutch Safety Board said. The board said it would now work on assessing the information. The examination of the airliner's other black box, the Flight Data Recorder, would start today, it said.

Additional reporting by

Bloomberg, Reuters