Three American intelligence officials who briefed reporters yesterday said U.S. technical intelligence and overhead satellite images bolster the case that a surface-to-air missile fired from territory held by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine shot down the civilian plane.
One of the officials described as solid the theory that a Russian-made SA-11 missile hit the plane and said it happened under conditions that Russia helped create. All three, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence findings, stopped short of claiming Russia played a direct role.
More than a decade after the U.S. went to war in Iraq based on false allegations that Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and ties to al-Qaeda, the intelligence agencies have reason to tread carefully in the airliner probe, according to Andrew Kuchins, director of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
“We would want to provide the most rock-solid case with credible intelligence to support it about where we think this missile came from and who operated it,” Kuchins said. “There’s no question Mr. Putin and the Russians are going to do, as they have for months, beginning with Crimea and continuing with eastern Ukraine, to lie, obfuscate, and bluster about their role.” […]
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