The tragic crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine today has sparked a flurry of speculation and some damning theories about how the plane may have been sabotaged, and RT published a report suggesting that Vladimir Putin may have been the target if a missile strike downed the craft.
Early information has suggested one possible and scary cause for the crash of MH17 — intentional interference using anti-aircraft weaponry on the ground in what was almost definitely a case of mistaken identity.
The speculation regarding Vladimir Putin’s plane, however, is a newer thread. Earlier audio recordings that circulated purportedly implicate separatists in the incident, and indicate that the plane that crashed was not a target — however, nothing conclusive has yet emerged to definitively indicate what happened to MH17.
RT.com cites Interfax, a Russian news agency, as quoting a source speaking on condition of anonymity regarding the fate of MH17 and how Putin’s flight may have been a factor.
The unnamed Russian aviation source says that Putin’s plane dovetailed with the doomed Malaysian jetliner, and that given the proximity in both timing and location, the targeting of Putin is a distinct possibility:
“I can say that Putin’s plane and the Malaysian Boeing intersected at the same point and the same echelon. That was close to Warsaw on 330-m echelon at the height of 10,100 meters. The presidential jet was there at 16:21 Moscow time and the Malaysian aircraft – 15:44 Moscow time… The contours of the aircrafts are similar, linear dimensions are also very similar, as for the coloring, at a quite remote distance they are almost identical.”
As the official suggests, Putin’s plane and the Malaysian Airlines craft are visually similar, and indeed could be mistaken for one another at high altitudes from the ground.
However, RT also notes that not only is the claim unverified, but that others have said Putin’s flight path did not veer over Ukraine airspace.
A separate source, also anonymous, denied Putin had been onboard a flight with a similar path, and said:
“Putin has only one jet – Board One, he does not fly other planes. This plane always takes off from Vnukovo-3, but the presidential plane have not been flying over Ukraine for a while.”
— max seddon (@maxseddon) July 17, 2014
— Ukraine Reporter (@StateOfUkraine) July 17, 2014
As noted in the above tweet, theories about MH17 being mistaken for Vladimir Putin’s plane have been deemed by some to be a “Russian media conspiracy theory.”