KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — Insurgents might have shot down Malaysia Airlines (MAS) jetliner MH17 thinking it was the plane of Russian president Vladimir Putin, a source told Ukrainian state news agency Interfax today.
The anonymous source said MH17 was using a similar route to Putin’s jet when it was allegedly shot down by the rebels.
“I can say that Putin’s plane and the Malaysian Boeing intersected at the same point and the same echelon. That was close to Warsaw on 330-m echelon at the height of 10,100 meters. The presidential jet was there at 16:21 Moscow time and the Malaysian aircraft - 15:44 Moscow time,” said the source.
“The contours of the aircrafts are similar, linear dimensions are also very similar, as for the coloring, at a quite remote distance they are almost identical.”
The report said that Putin was on his way back to Moscow from a BRICS conference in Brazil.
This comes as a social media site attributed to a top Ukrainian rebel commander said the insurgents had shot down an army transporter at the same location as the MH17 crash.
The comments by the top military commander of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” suggest the separatists had shot down the MAS plane by mistake, believing it was a large Ukrainian army transport plane.
MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian militants yesterday, killing all 295 people aboard, a Ukrainian interior ministry official said.
MAS said air traffic controllers lost contact with MH17 as it flew over eastern Ukraine towards the Russian border, bound for Asia with 280 passengers and 15 crew aboard.
Flight tracking data indicated it was at its cruising altitude of 10 km when it disappeared.