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US faces intel hurdles in downing of airliner

US has not been able to show Russian government was involved in downing of airliner

FILE - This July 19, 2014, file photo shows  pro-Russian fighter guarding the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, e...
File - This July 17, 2014, file photo shows people walking amongst burning debris at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of...

United States Ukraine Intelligence

FILE - This July 19, 2014, file photo shows pro-Russian fighter guarding the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, e...

United States Ukraine Intelligence

File - This July 17, 2014, file photo shows people walking amongst burning debris at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of...

ASPEN, Colorado (AP) -- A series of unanswered questions about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shows the limits of U.S. intelligence-gathering even when it is intensely focused.

U.S. intelligence officials have used satellite imagery, intercepted conversations and social media postings to present what they call a solid circumstantial case that the plane was brought down by a Russian-made SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine.

But they have not offered proof that the separatists obtained the sophisticated missile system from the Russian government. And they say they have not determined what, if any, involvement Russian operatives may have had in directing or encouraging the attack, which they believe was a mistaken attempt to hit a Ukrainian military aircraft.

Finding such proof, they say, will take time. Moscow denies involvement.


Updated : 2021-07-25 02:44 GMT+08:00