Pro-Russian fighters guard the site of a crashed Malaysia Airlines passenger plane near the village of Rozsypne, Ukraine, eastern Ukraine Friday, July 18, 2014.
KIEV, Ukraine — Nearly 24 hours after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down in embattled eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian rebels who have had a stronghold on the area for months admitted they have the type of weapon capable of downing a Boeing 777.
As first reported by AP's Nataliya Vasilyeva, Pavel Gubarev, the self-proclaimed governor of the Donetsk People's Republic, said the militia does have a "Buk" missile system, but it is faulty.
Nearly 24 hours after the crash rebels admit they do have a Buk 1/2— Nataliya Vasilyeva (@NatVasilyevaAP) July 18, 2014
The day after the crash, Russia and Ukraine are now engaged in a blame game over who is responsible for the shooting down of the plane. Ukrainian security officials have been pushing out videos, photos and audio, asserting that the pro-Russian separatists are responsible for the tragedy.
Most recently, Ukraine's Ministry of Internal Affairs released a video that purportedly shows a Buk being towed away.
In a Facebook post on Friday, Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote:
Today, on July 18, at 0450, secret surveillance units of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry detected a towing vehicle with a loaded tractor crawler missile system, moving through Krasnodon toward the border with the Russian Federation. Uncovered missiles can be seen on the video. Two missiles are in place — the middle one is not visible. This and other information gathered is being analyzed.
A source in Kiev's security services on Friday said the downing of the plane will not halt Ukraine's "anti-terrorist operation" — the government's offensive to combat pro-Russian separatists who have been taking over cities in eastern Ukraine.
However, the fact that the insurgents have advance defense systems, has forced the Ukrainian government to change tactics. The systems limit Ukraine's air operation against the insurgents, the source said. The situation has become more clear as a result of this incident, the source added, as it it now seems Ukraine is fighting not only with pro-Russian insurgents, but also with Russia.
Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council will convene later on Friday to discuss security options going forward, but the specifics of the agenda are not known.
As cleanup efforts continue, officials In Mariupol, 100 miles south of the crash site, said they are organizing response teams groups of people in different professions and specialties, such as policemen, hunters and volunteers, who can get access to the site and assist emergency responders, Oleksandr Omelchuk, an aide to Donetsk Regional Governor Serhiy Taruta, toldMashable.
"The biggest problem for us is the terrorists are still there [at the crash site]. They are searching for treasures there, even looking on the bodies [of victims for possessions]," Omelchuk said.
Omelchuk accuses the separatists of wanting to take the black boxes to Moscow in order "to conceal the real information" about the event.
Asked if Taruta is holding any talks to try to find a settlement to the conflict, and he said the governor "cannot communicate with terrorists, but on different levels there are negotiations... we do whatever we can do."
Russia, however, denies it has any plans to take the black boxes from Flight 17, the Interfax news agency reported Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on the Rossiya 24 television station.
"We are not going to take away these boxes, Lavrov said. "We are not going to violate the rules existing with regard to this sort of cases within the international community."
Tags: MALAYSIA AIRLINES, RUSSIA, Ukraine, US & World, WORLD