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Ukraine Defends Decision Not To Close Airspace In MH17 Case

Ukraine defended its decision not to close airspace in the east of the country where a Malaysian airliner was shot down last year, saying it was unaware that anti-aircraft weapons were being used in the area.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine by a Russian-made Buk missile, the Dutch Safety Board concluded in a report October 13 on the July 2014 disaster that killed all 298 people on board.

The Dutch report did not lay blame for the air disaster, but said Ukraine should have closed the airspace over the conflict zone, and that the 61 airlines that had continued flying there should have recognized the potential danger.

"No one at this time...was even aware" of the possibility that Russian-backed rebels had obtained highly sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said, adding Ukraine authorities assumed the rebels were using "purely conventional weapons."

Hennadiy Zubko, head of Ukraine's MH17 investigation, said Ukraine followed established procedures.

"All the recommendations from the [International Civil Aviation Organization] were carried out... Ukraine closed its airspace below 9,750 meters," he said.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters