Ukrainian Defense Minister Again Rejects Missile Theory As Cause Of Tu-154 Crash

The Ukrainian Defense Minister, Alexander Kuzmuk, has again rejected claims that a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile hit a Russian Tu-154 airliner last week, causing it to crash into the Black Sea. While appearing in parliament on Tuesday, the minister stressed that a Ukrainian missile had not been in the air corridor used by the Tu-154. According to him, this information can be confirmed by the objective firing control which was used during Ukrainian exercises in the Crimea. The minister claimed that every safety precaution had been taken. Kuzmuk said that 22 radar, radio and tactical observation points had secured control over the firing. The minister also that the control's data also showed that the an S-200 missile had fallen into the sea in the area of the exercises two minutes before the Russian plane disappeared off radar screens. He also said that the plane was 270 km away from the war games site, well out of the range of an S-200. Moreover, according to the minister, the radar locator on the target for the missile had been switched off at 12:42. The defense minister claimed that without this locator the missile could not have hit the target and so then would have self-destructed. In addition, it was reported that two planes were tracked after the disappearance of the missile - the Tu-154 and an An-24. Alexander Kuzmuk stressed that his ministry was interested in establishing the true reasons behind what happened.

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