MOSCOW, November 5 (RIA Novosti) — Western special services know who shot down the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine and the reasons behind the move but prefer to manipulate this information and take advantage of the tragedy, retired Lt. Gen. Nikolai Pushkarev, formerly of the Russian Armed Forces' Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) told RIA Novosti.
"The Western intelligence and the Americans are very well aware of all the details: who shot [flight MH17] down, why and what for, but manipulate this information and this incident for their own benefit. This provocation was organized to lay [the blame] on Russia and force it into sending troops to Ukraine, officially, but the Russian government did not succumb to this provocation," Pushkarev said in an interview.
Pushkarev added that the United States is interested in a "direct military conflict between Russia and Ukraine."
Pushkarev also stated that investigating the real reasons behind the catastrophe is not the responsibility of the Main Intelligence Directorate.
"The Federal Security Service and the Foreign Intelligence Service are responsible for investigating this case, because they have the needed experts in these structures, this is their prerogative," he explained.
On July 17, a Malaysia Airlines plane flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in Ukraine's eastern region of Donetsk, killing all 298 people on board. According to a preliminary report issued by the Dutch Safety Board early in September, the plane likely broke up in mid-air as a result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from the outside.
Kiev accused independence supporters in eastern Ukraine of shooting the plane down, but has not provided any evidence to back this claim. The local militia leaders have said that they do not have weapons capable of shooting down a plane flying at 32,000 feet.