Clearing Russia from presumed involvement in the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, German intelligence officials say they have "unambiguous" evidence that the crash was caused by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, Der Spiegel reported Sunday.
The information was presented earlier this month to members of a parliamentary control committee by the president of Germany's foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Gerhard Schindler.
"The BND has intelligence indicating that pro-Russian separatists captured a BUK air defense missile system at a Ukrainian military base and fired a missile on July 17 that exploded in direct proximity to the Malaysian aircraft, which had been carrying 298 people," Der Spiegel reports.
Citing "unambiguous findings," which includes satellite images and "diverse photo evidence," the BND has concluded that pro-Russian separatists had used a Russian Buk missile defense system from a Ukrainian base to fire a rocket that exploded directly next to the Malaysia Airlines plane, killing all 298 people on board.
"It was pro-Russian separatists," Der Spiegel quotes Schindler as saying.
According to analysts, the admission by the German intelligence committee is in direct contradiction to what Western governments, including the Obama administration, said about the fatal crash: that it was done either directly or with backing by the Russian government.
As investigative reporter Robert Parry notes in Consortium News on Monday, previous to the BND presentation, the Obama administration and other Western governments had thus far failed to present any information upholding their claims.
"By withholding this evidence for nearly three months, the West has benefited from keeping alive the anti-Russian propaganda—blaming Moscow and President Vladimir Putin for the tragedy—but the secrecy has given the perpetrators time to scatter and cover their tracks," Parry writes.
With Der Spiegel’s report, it’s now clearer why the delay and the secrecy. If the missile responsible for bringing down MH-17 came from a Ukrainian military base—not from the Russian government—then a very potent anti-Putin propaganda theme would be neutralized. More attention also would focus on whether the missile battery was really under the control of a rebel unit, as the BND suggests—or was in the hands of anti-rebel extremists.