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Ukraine knew Iran had downed airliner but didn’t go public, official says

Volodymyr Zelensky (Mykola Lazarenko/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Ukraine knew on a preliminary basis that Iran shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 on January 8, the same day as the incident, but decided not to go public with the information because it wanted to get access to the crash site.

Kyiv knew conclusively that Iran’s military was to blame the following day, yet told its embassy in Tehran to rule out a terrorist act in its statement, National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danylov told Current Time, a television and digital network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with Voice of America.

The reason being, he said on January 13, was that the situation room in Kyiv wanted Iran to accept Ukraine’s team of investigators.

“After we received confirmation from Tehran that they were waiting for us, this information was removed,” Danylov said.

Opposition politicians had criticized Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for not announcing findings sooner that Iran had likely shot down the airliner on January 8, killing all 176 people on board, including 11 Ukrainians.

Danylov posited that the prime ministers of Britain and Canada came out with statements laying the blame on an Iranian rocket for “political reasons.”

However, Kyiv took a “pragmatic” approach because “our task was to discover the truth,” he said.

When asked if such actions were provocative, Danylov justified them as “goal-oriented.”

He said Ukraine’s investigators believed the rocket that shot down the airliner was a Russian-made Tor missile.

When Iran acknowledged shooting down the plane after nearly three days of denials, Danylov said it “relieved some tension.”

It was confirmation that Ukraine “went down the right path,” he said.

Danylov said he had faith in his team’s conclusions because it consisted of the same people who investigated the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine in July 2014.

An international team of investigators led by the Netherlands has concluded that Russia was responsible for shooting down the airliner in which all 298 people aboard were killed.

Russia has rejected the conclusions of the investigation.