Russia's Interfax news agency on Tuesday quoted the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, as saying that the rebels never had the kind of weapons that would be needed to shoot down a commercial airliner.
The Ukrainian government in Kiev says the plane was shot down by a rocket fired from an area under the militias' control and a preliminary report from the Dutch Safety Board confirms that the aircraft was downed by "high-energy objects" fired from the outside.
Earlier reports revealed that MH17 was downed by "high-energy objects"
"The final report will be released in the summer of 2015," the board's spokeswoman, Sara Vernooij, told Efe news agency Tuesday.
The jet was flying over Donetsk, a region which was seeing intense fighting between Ukrainian government forces and the independence-seeking militias. Each side has blamed the other for the downing of the airliner.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was carrying 283 passengers and a crew of 15 when it crashed en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Most of those killed, 193 people, were of Dutch nationality.