The missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, killing all 298 people on board, came from the arsenals of the Ukrainian army, not from Russia, said the Russian military on Monday.
The jet was shot down by a Soviet-made missile over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in July 2014, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Russian border, where fighting had been raging for months between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists. Associated Press reporters sighted a Buk missile system not far from the site just hours before the plane crash.
The Netherlands and Australia announced in May that they believe the missile was transported to Ukraine from a military unit in the Russian city of Kursk.
Russia has vehemently denied involvement and has over the years come up with various theories as to the cause of the crash.
Lt Gen Nikolai Parshin, chief of the Missile and Artillery Directorate at the Russian Defense Ministry, told reporters on Monday that the military had studied and declassified archives at the research center outside Moscow that produced the Buk missiles after the Dutch investigators displayed parts of the missile and their serial numbers.
Parshin said the Russian archives show that the missile that was made of these parts was transported to a military unit in western Ukraine in 1986, and to Russia's knowledge never left Ukraine.
Asked about the possibility that the separatists may have seized the missile system during fighting in 2014, Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov conceded that Russia does not have any documents proving otherwise but pointed to the statements of Ukrainian officials who have denied that separatists seized any of their Buks.
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