Russia refuses to comment on reports U.S. offered crash investigation assistance

Tuesday 10-11-2015 05:50 PM
Russia refuses to comment on reports U.S. offered crash investigation assistance

CAIRO, Nov. 10 (Aswat Masriya) - The Kremlin said it will not comment on reports relying on unnamed sources claiming that the U.S. has offered to help investigate the deadly Russian plane crash last month, Russian state-affiliated Sputnik news agency reported. 

According to Sputnik, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated that "any comments or reactions to reports citing sources are impossible."

The New York Times had said in a story that ran on Nov. 7, that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has agreed to give Russia "forensic assistance". The Times only cited "senior American officials," without naming them.  

U.S. State Department Spokesman John Kirby said, "there has been the sharing of information related specifically to this crash between the United States and Russia and between the United States and Egypt," during a daily press briefing on Monday.  

"We have offered assistance. I’m not aware of any acceptance at this point, but I know that an offer has been extended," Kirby he added.  

Kirby suggested that the journalist behind the line of questions speaks to the FBI and other "federal agencies".

He insisted that he is unable to comment on intelligence, which was also his response to a question on the contents of a Reuters report claiming that the U.S. intelligence "intercepted" Russian communications as part of the "of pieces of evidence leading U.S. officials to suspect that a device" was planted on the Russian plane.

On Nov. 9 Reuters reported in a very brief update that "neither Russia nor Egypt has accepted an offer from the FBI to assist them in investigating the crash."

Both the U.S. and the UK have officially entertained the possibility that the Russian plane was brought down by bomb planted on the plane. According to statements by Peskov on Monday, the UK has passed “certain data” to Moscow.

Egypt, however, said on Saturday that have states that have supported this theory have not shared information in detail with Egyptian security apparatuses.

Yet, in a White House press briefing on Friday, Spokesman Josh Earnest said "we had made an offer of assistance ... and there has not been a specific request made at this point by Egyptian officials for that kind of assistance."

The White House Spokesman acknowledged "our intelligence officers and our national security professionals were trying to learn everything they possibly could about what exactly happened."  

However, Earnest said this "does not mean that they are working closely with Russian and Egyptian investigators. Those guys are leading their own investigation."

The Egyptian chairman of the crash investigation committee, Ayman al-Muqaddam, said in a press conference that a noise was heard in the last second of the Russian jet's cockpit recording. He added the committee, made up of 47 investigators, is considering all possible scenarios for the cause of the accident.

On Oct. 31, an Airbus A321 operated by a Russian airliner crashed 23 minutes after take-off from Egypt's popular tourist hub Sharm el-Sheikh, it's debris spread across at least 13 square kilometers in the Sinai desert, leaving all 224 passengers and crew dead. 

The majority of the passengers were Russian, except for four Ukrainians, one person from Belarus and three whose nationalities are unknown.   

IS affiliates in North Sinai claimed responsibility for the crash twice in separate statements, one of which was hours after the plane crashed, but was initially dismissed locally and internationally. 

Aswat Masriya couldn't independently verify the authenticity of either claims. 

An Egypt-led international committee investigating the crash announced on Saturday that it is still in “the information-gathering phase” and that all scenarios are on the table.

But even though the investigation is still underway, the UK has suspended flights to Sharm el-Sheikh and Russia has suspended flights to Egypt, sparking fears on the impact of the crash on Egyptian tourism.

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