Ukraine: We've Got Audio of Rebels Bragging About Plane

Recording hasn't been verified; suggests they thought it was military craft
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2014 4:33 AM CDT
Updated Jul 18, 2014 6:04 AM CDT
People walk amongst the debris at the crash site after a passenger plan was shot down Thursday as it flew over eastern Ukraine.   (AP Photo/Channel 1)
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(Newser) – Russia's response to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is "deeply, deeply, unsatisfactory," says Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, one of several world leaders demanding answers on the shooting down of the Boeing 777 over eastern Ukraine. Abbott says he wants the fullest investigation possible, as it "now seems certain it's been brought down by a Russian-supplied surface-to-air missile." UN chief Ban Ki-moon joined Malaysia's president in calling for a "full, transparent, and international investigation," while Hillary Clinton made some of the strongest remarks from the US side, saying it is time to put Vladimir Putin "on notice that he has gone too far and we are not going to stand idly by." In other developments:

  • Ukraine's security services released an intercepted call in which pro-Russia rebels reportedly brag about having shot down a plane, then react in horror when they realize it was a civilian aircraft, the Guardian reports. The recordings have yet to be verified. "We warned you, stay away from our skies," says a now-deleted post on a social media account attributed to a rebel leader, though it's not clear whether the account is genuine, Vox reports.

  • At the crash site, which spans a wide area of Ukrainian farmland, rescue workers, police officers, and off-duty coal miners are continuing to search for bodies amid the wreckage, where there is a lingering acrid smell, the BBC reports. More than 100 bodies have been recovered so far and there is no sign of any survivors from the 298 passengers and crew, including scores of experts on their way to an international AIDS conference in Australia.
  • The rebels who control the area say they have found the aircraft's black boxes and are deciding what to do with them, reports the AP, which notes that the development has "profound implications for the integrity of the plane crash investigation." Ukrainian investigators have not been able to access the site, and there are at least five rebel checkpoints on the road to the area from Donetsk, the nearest large city.
  • The airspace the Malaysian jet was apparently shot down in was not closed, but airlines are now rerouting their flights to avoid Ukraine, the AP finds. Many carriers had been steering clear of the troubled region for a long time. "I find it pretty remarkable that a civil airline company—if this aircraft was on the flight plan—that they are flight-planning over an area like that," a former National Transportation Safety Board vice-chairman says. "You wonder a little bit about Malaysia Airlines, if that's true." The airspace was only open above 32,000 feet and MH17 was 1,000 feet higher.
  • Russia and Ukraine are blaming each other for the shooting down, but they both agree that a Soviet-era SA-11 Buk missile appears to have been responsible, Reuters reports. If it was fired by rebels, it's not clear whether it would have been supplied by Russia or captured from Ukrainian forces—or if rebels would have received training in using the radar-guided missile. Rebels may have mistaken the jet for a military plane in "the kind of scenario that becomes much more likely when you give a lot of undertrained and unreliable people sophisticated weaponry," a former State Department official says.
(Read more Malaysia Airlines MH17 stories.)

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