MOSCOW, May 25 (Xinhua) -- The missile that downed Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) in 2014 over Ukraine "more than probably" belonged to the Ukrainian armed forces, the Russian Defense Ministry said Friday.
The Dutch-led five-nation Joint Investigation Team (JIT) announced on Thursday that the installation of the Buk missile that shot down the MH17 came from the 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade of the Russian army in Kursk. It presented the remains of the missile at a press conference.
The Russian Defense Ministry on Friday refuted the accusation, saying that no new anti-aircraft missiles crossed the border to Ukraine since 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed.
The ministry said in a statement that its experts had analyzed video materials of the press conference and discovered that the serial number of the missile's engine clearly indicated that it was produced in 1986 in the former Soviet Union.
The warranty period of this type of anti-aircraft missiles is 15 years, and Russia has destroyed all of its Buk missiles, the statement said.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the division of its military property between the former Soviet republics of Russia and Ukraine, the latter received some 20 Buk missile system units, it said.
"Thus, the only reason for the deliberate silence of the Dutch commission about the origin of the 1986 missile engine is that it more than probably belonged to the Ukrainian armed forces," the ministry said.
The MH17, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. All 298 people on board died, including 196 Dutch citizens.
In August 2014, authorities from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Ukraine and Malaysia set up the JIT to conduct a criminal investigation into the crash.