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Russia slams US for implicating rebels in jet crash

Russia on Saturday launched a blistering attack against Washington after US President Barack Obama said that a missile fired from territory controlled by Moscow-backed rebels downed the Malaysian Airlines flight over Ukraine.

In his most extensive comments on the tragedy that killed 298 people aboard MH17 flight en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Obama said on Friday that “evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile that was launched from an area that is controlled by Russian-backed separatists inside of Ukraine.”

On Saturday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the US administration sought to pin the blame on separatists and Russia without waiting for the results of an investigation.

“The statements of representatives of the US administration are evidence of a deep political aberration of Washington’s perception of what is going on in Ukraine,” he told Russian news agencies.

“At least, that is how the relevant statements can be interpreted,” the foreign ministry quoted him as saying.

“Despite an obvious and indisputable nature of the arguments provided by rebels and Moscow, the US administration is pushing its own agenda,” he said.

Ryabkov reiterated accusations that Washington had triggered tensions in the ex-Soviet country by meddling in its domestic affairs and provoking an uprising that ousted Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovych in February.

“In the geopolitical frenzy and attempts to apply methods of social and political engineering everywhere, the United States acts like a bad surgeon: to cut deeper at first, and then stitch up sloppily so that it would hurt for a long time.”

Deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin added: “The White House clearly established who’s guilty even before the investigation of the Boeing catastrophe,” he said on Twitter.

Russian mass-circulation daily Moskovsky Komsomolets on Saturday quoted military analyst Viktor Murakhovsky as saying that the pro-Moscow rebels were unlikely to have the experience and technical capabilities to operate the sophisticated Buk missile system that is thought to have been used to shoot down the Malaysia flight.

And the Kommersant broadsheet said that the damage sustained by MH17 was similar to that suffered by a Russian Tu-154 passenger plane that was shot down by Ukrainian armed forces during military exercises in 2001, killing 78 people on board.