The Ukrainian government suspected as early as January 8, the date of the fatal crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 outside Tehran, that an Iranian missile had shot down the Boeing 737-800, Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleskiy Danilov told Current Time in an interview.
He did not elaborate about the source of Kyiv's information about a missile strike.
After initially denying such reports, Tehran acknowledged on January 11 that Iranian soldiers had accidentally launched the missile that downed the plane, killing all 176 people aboard.
Ukraine’s Tehran embassy at first had rejected both terrorism and a missile strike as possible explanations for the catastrophe in a bid to ensure that Iran allowed Ukrainian investigators to join the crash investigation, Danilov said.
When did Ukraine already know for sure that it was a missile (that had caused the January 8 crash)?
We already had the preliminary information on January 8, and we already knew conclusively about this at 9 in the morning on January 9.
Why, then, did Ukraine not come out with an announcement earlier than Canada’s prime minister, (Justin Trudeau) or the British prime minister, (Boris Johnson)?
Look, they’re coming out with their own statements. They have the right to do this. Our mission now is to work on figuring out the truth. For them (Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and British Prime Minister Johnson), this can be a political issue, but for us this is a pragmatic issue. Our people died. Our task is to figure things out, to conduct an investigation, to gather evidence.
Why, then, right after the catastrophe, did the Ukrainian Embassy in Iran exclude the theory of an act of terrorism?
The Ukrainian Embassy in Tehran acted as staff [in Kyiv] instructed them to. This was our work and our instructions. We needed to do this so that Iran would agree to receive our group [of investigators]. After this, as soon as we received confirmation from Tehran that they were expecting us [to join the investigation], this information was removed [from the embassy’s website].
That is, this was a provocation?
Listen, you can’t really be asking me this. We’re working for results. If someone in this process must carry out certain actions, that’s the job of the staff that was in Kyiv.
Ukraine already knows what kind of missile this was?
We have an understanding about what missile this was. We understand what this is.
Can you speak about this?
We consider that it was a Tor missile.
Produced by Russia?
Today, a lot of countries in the world sell one weapon or another. The Tor missile systems are manufactured in the Russian Federation. And they’re in active military use in Iran.
Was this one missile or two?
They often launch two of them right away.
You announced that the Ukrainian experts are already returning [from the crash investigation]. So, they’ve already gathered enough evidence?
You can take a look at what the state of things was that we came across in Iran. We even recorded the hotel where our mission was staying. We recorded this so that there wouldn’t be any provocations. You see, everything is scrambled here. Our rescue team [investigators – ed] figured all this out. We collected what we needed from all this.
That is, the Iranians, all the same, tried to conceal the evidence?
Look, I don’t know why they were doing this. I can only say that, in today’s world, it’s very difficult to hide anything. That’s the first thing. Second of all, by using modern technologies, if you have them, you can get results very quickly.
How do you evaluate Tehran’s admission of guilt?
First of all, this got rid of a certain stress that we had. We understood that we’d been headed on the right path from the start. We were doing everything correctly. I am very thankful to our team of specialists. This is already not their first experience [investigating a crash]. These very specialists, by the way, investigated the wreckage of the Boeing that the Russian Federation shot down five and a half years ago on the territory of (eastern Ukraine’s) Donetsk Oblast.
(Ukrainian President) Volodymyr Zelenskiy promised that the guilty will be punished. How does Ukraine intend to guarantee this?
Volodymyr (Zelenskiy) has talked twice with the president of Iran. A criminal case has been opened in Iran. There’s a criminal case that Ukraine is carrying out separately. I think that we absolutely will obtain punishment for the guilty in this tragedy. We will do everything, legally speaking, so that everything is done according to international law.