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Ukraine Blames Rebels for Downed Malaysian Jet

President Petro Poroshenko claims intercepted audio of rebel commanders and fighters proves militant fighters shot down Flight MH17.

Ukraine pinned the blame for the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 squarely on pro-Russian rebels Thursday, saying they were solely responsible for killing almost 300 people "with just one shot." The separatists denied responsibility.

In a video statement, President Petro Poroshenko claimed the government had intercepted conversations — one of them allegedly with a Russian colonel whom he identified as Vasiliy Geranin — in which rebel commanders and fighters were "boasting about the hit airplane." NBC News couldn't authenticate the recordings, which the Ukrainian government posted online.

“Just now, just now, a plane was shot down,” says a man the government identified as a rebel commander. In the second audio, a man the government identified as a rebel fighter known as Major remarks that "it's a civilian plane.” The other man on the audio, whom the government identified as a rebel fighter known as The Greek, asks whether weapons were found at the crash site. Major says no.


— Irina Tkachenko, Erin McClam and M. Alex Johnson