MOSCOW, July 24 (RIA Novosti) – Independence supporters in eastern Ukraine could not have downed a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko said in an interview to Russia's LifeNews television channel Thursday.
“In my opinion no; they could not have done it,” Savchenko said.
Savchenko argued that only well-trained troops could use the Buk surface-to-air missile system.
“Do they [independence supporters] have these trained professionals? Could they set Buk up? I don’t think so. First of all they would have to zero in. Even if the person served in the military before and then went over to the independence supporters … only a person who constantly practices would be able to hit the target,” Savchenko added.
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed July 17 near the city of Donetsk in Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.
Kiev blames the independence supporters in eastern Ukraine for shooting down a place using the Buk missile system. However, local militia leaders insist that they did not possess Buk missile systems, or any other weapons capable of shooting down a plane flying at 32,000 feet.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said that at the time of the crash, the Ukrainian military had at least 27 Buk missile systems.
At the moment, Nadezhda Savchenko is held in custody in the Russian city of Voronezh. Russian investigative officers claim that she was a fire spotter during a mortar attack near the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk on June 17. As a result of this attack, two Russian journalists, Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin, were fatally wounded.