A piece of the wreckage is seen at a crash site of the
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in the village of
Petropavlivka, Donetsk region. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev
Analysis of the black box flight recorders from a downed
Malaysian airliner show it was destroyed by shrapnel coming
from a rocket blast and went down because of "massive explosive
decompression", a Ukrainian security official says.
The spokesman for Ukraine's Security Council, Andriy Lysenko,
told a news conference in Kiev the information came from
experts analysing the recorders from the plane that came down
in rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine on July 17.
Investigators in Britain, who downloaded the data, had no
said they had passed information to the international
investigation led by the Netherlands, whose nationals
two-thirds of the victims.
Kiev and the West accuse pro-Russian rebels of shooting down
the plane. Moscow says the Ukrainian government is
responsible for the crash, which killed all 298 people on
Meanwhile, Ukraine says its troops have taken more territory
from pro-Russian rebels near the crash site, as international
investigators said fighting was preventing them reaching the
Ukrainian officials said two rebel-held towns had been
recaptured and attempts were being made to take a village
Kiev says was near the launch site of the surface-to-air
missile that shot down the airliner.
In a report on three months of fighting between government
forces and separatist rebels who have set up pro-Russian
"republics" in the east, the United Nations said more than
1,100 people had been killed.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said
increasingly intense fighting in the Donetsk and Luhansk
regions was extremely alarming and the shooting down of the
Malaysian airliner on July 17 may amount to a war crime.
Western leaders say rebels almost certainly shot the airliner
down by mistake with a Russian-supplied surface-to-air
missile. Russia accuses Kiev of responsibility.
The separatists are still in control of the area where the
plane was shot down but fighting in the surrounding
countryside has been heavy as government forces try to drive
On Monday at least three civilians were reported killed in
overnight fighting, and Kiev said its troops recaptured Savur
Mogila, a strategic piece of high ground about 30 km (20
miles) from where the Malaysia Airlines Boeing hit the
ground, and other areas under rebel control.
A spokesman for Ukraine's Security Council, Andriy Lysenko,
said Kiev was trying to close in on the crash site and force
the rebels out of the area but was not conducting military
operations in the immediate vicinity.
He said Ukrainian troops were in the towns of Torez and
Shakhtarsk, both formerly held by the rebels, while fighting
was in progress for the village of Snezhnoye - close to the
presumed missile launch site - and Pervomaisk.
Government troops were also readying an assault on Gorlovka,
a rebel stronghold north of the provincial capital Donetsk.
"The Ukrainian military is conducting an active assault on
regions under temporary control of Russian mercenaries,"
Lysenko told a news conference in Kiev.
In Donetsk local officials said artillery fire had damaged
residential blocks, houses, power lines and a gas pipeline.
The city, with a pre-war population of nearly 1 million, has
largely become a ghost town since rebels dug in for a stand
in the face of advancing Ukrainian troops.
The site of the crash of the Malaysian airliner has yet to be
secured or thoroughly investigated, more than 10 days after
the crash. After days in which bodies lay untended in the
sun, rebels gathered the human remains and shipped the bodies
out, and turned over the flight recorders to a Malaysian
But the wreckage itself is still largely unguarded, and much
of it has been moved or dismantled in what the rebels say was
part of the operation to recover the bodies. No full forensic
sweep has been conducted to ensure all human remains have
been collected. Both side accuse the other of using fighting
to prevent the investigation.
The Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe said
its experts attempting to reach the crash site with
investigators Australia and the Netherlands were forced to
return to Donetsk for "security reasons".
A rebel leader, Vladimir Antyufeyev, told reporters in
Donetsk that separatist fighters escorting the international
experts to the site encountered fighting and turned back.
Antyufeyev, who like most of the senior rebel leadership is
an outsider from Russia, also blamed the "senseless"
Ukrainian army for trying to destroy evidence at the crash
site under cover of fighting.
In Kiev, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, whose
country lost 28 nationals in the crash, said she would
discuss access with Ukrainian authorities.
"We'll be seeking assurances that any military action doesn't
compromise our humanitarian mission," Bishop told a news
conference. She hoped Russia would use its influence on the
rebels to help allow wider access to the site.
Evidence could be lost if fighting continued, Australia's
Deputy Commissioner of National Security, Andrew Colvin, said
in Sydney, and the chances of finding the remains of all the
dead grew slimmer as time passed.
European Union member states were expected to try to reach a
final deal on Tuesday on further sanctions. The measures
would include closing the bloc's capital markets to Russian
state banks, an embargo on future arms sales and restrictions
on energy technology and technology that could be used for
The EU added new names on Friday to its list of individuals
and companies facing travel bans and asset freezes over their
alleged involvement in Ukraine and could agree to extend the
list further as early as Monday.
Washington, which has taken the lead in imposing individual
and corporate penalties on Russia, said on Friday it was
likely to follow up on any new EU move with more sanctions of
Russia said it would not impose tit-for-tat measures or "fall
into hysterics" over Western sanctions, which could have the
effect of make Russia more economically independent.
"We can't ignore it. But to fall into hysterics and respond
to a blow with a blow is not worthy of a major country,"
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
While Lavrov appeared to be trying to stake out the high
ground amid growing tensions with the West, the EU was
criticised for failing to stand up to Russia over Ukraine.
A prominent Polish newspaper editor and leading dissident
during the Communist era, Adam Michnik, issued an open letter
to EU leaders demanding fortitude in the face of what he
called Russian President Vladimir Putin's "aggressive
"Unity against Putin is the real answer to the crisis in
Ukraine," Michnik said.