Iran shot down a commercial plane, killing all 176 crew members and passengers, because it was frightened by “six US F-35 fighter planes” near its borders, said the highest Russian diplomat The independent.
“This information needs to be verified, but I would like to emphasize the nervousness that always accompanies such situations,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday during his annual press conference in response to a question from this news site.
“It was a human mistake. Everyone understands it. “
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The longtime minister agreed with Iran’s argument that loss of life was the direct consequence of growing U.S. hostilities between nations when he assassinated Iranian chief general Qassem Soleimani.
“This act went beyond the realm of international and simply human legal understanding,” he said.
The U.S. decision to hit Soleimani on January 3 was followed five days later by retaliatory missile attacks on American air bases in Iraq.
As the plane prepared to take off on January 8, Tehran was on high alert for the possibility of a second attack. Incredibly, however, local authorities made the fateful decision not to close civil airspace. At 6.14 in the morning, just two minutes after take-off, the Ukraine International Airlines plane stopped sending all the data.
It was clear even without subsequent satellite information that a catastrophic accident had occurred. Iran has insisted that a technical problem has occurred, but defective engines – even those on fire – do not eliminate entire systems. Images of missile debris and videos that appear to show a missile attack offered even clearer evidence of a foul.
The Iranian authorities took nearly four days to admit that its anti-aircraft systems had swapped the plane and shot down by mistake.
Until Lavrov’s press conference on Friday, Moscow seemed to support the Iranian position.
Speaking on January 10 – the morning after the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, confirmed that the U.S. secret services showed an Iranian missile attack, but before Tehran made his admission – the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergei Ryabkov, he said he was sure there were “no reasons” to make “noisy” statements.
Lavrov initially denied that his foreign ministry had made statements in support of the Iranian position.
The Iranian admission therefore seemed a surprise to Moscow, which has so far adopted a very different approach to its missile problem. A significant body of evidence now connects Russia to the BUK anti-aircraft system which dropped Malaysian Airlines flight 17 over Donbass in July 2014. That attack resulted in the loss of nearly 300 lives.
The independent investigation team set up to investigate the disaster concluded that the missile system was delivered by a Russian army unit to Kursk.
A whole range of Russian commentators has made clear comparisons between Iranian and Russian responses to their respective disasters. But the most interesting comments came from Margarita Simonyan, the faithful Kremlin-funded RT editor. He suggested that Iranian actions have shown them to be “real men … unlike other countries … including [Russia]”.
Mr. Lavrov confused The independent he asked if he agreed with Ms Simonyan’s analysis, refusing to accept Russian responsibility for MH17.
He also discarded the results of the independent commission, as Russia “had not been included in the investigation”.
The responses on Iran and the MH17 were the highlights of the press conference for the rest in a low voice. Most of the event on the set was used to express acute criticism of the West, and particularly the United States, of “undermining international security”.
Lavrov said that Moscow will act to mitigate the future “escalation … wherever it comes from”. He would not be drawn to the future as to where Russia’s next focus could be. Citing Viktor Chernomyrdin, Russia’s former aphorism-loving prime minister, Lavrov said it is “difficult” to make predictions – “especially when they concern the future.”
Lavrov also responded to speculation about his future ahead of an impending government shaking. It has been said for some time that the 70-year-old wants to go out, but Putin is reluctant to separate from the highly experienced minister.
“Three days ago, I was asked to continue doing my homework,” he said. “And I run them.”