Russian Involvement In MH17 Crash Proved 'Beyond Doubt' Say British Spies

British spies believe that it is proved "beyond any reasonable doubt" that the missile launcher that downed the MH17 jet over Ukraine in 2014 was supplied and later removed by Russia.

The disclosure is contained in a short paragraph buried in the annual report of parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee, spotted by Bellingcat, an investigative site that has worked extensively on the Ukraine conflict.

"Russia conducts information warfare on a massive scale," an unnamed source from the Secret Intelligence Service told the committee.

"An early example of this was a hugely intensive, multi-channel propaganda effort to persuade the world that Russia bore no responsibility for the shooting down of [Malaysian Airlines flight] MH-17.

"An outright falsehood: we know beyond any reasonable doubt that the Russian military supplied and subsequently recovered the missile launcher."

MH17 Crash Site
Pro-Russia armed rebels walk near stuffed animals and candles left at the site of the MH17 flight crash near Grabove village, Donetsk region, on July 17, 2016. Aleksey Filippov/AFP/Getty Images

Russia denied from the outset any involvement in the incident, which saw a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet carrying 283 passengers crash after being struck by a Russian-made missile.

The source also said that "all three Russian intelligence services are tasked with carrying out 'information operations' [which] goes beyond promulgating the Russian perspective and includes the creating and propagation of forgeries and falsehoods."

Meanwhile, the signals intelligence agency GCHQ told MPs on the committee that Russian attempts to spread discord and disinformation are likely to grow.

"Russia has... in Europe [tried] to influence opinion, not necessarily through cyber, through all sorts of other traditional methods," a source told the ISC.

"I think it's about thinking through... how you would influence a particular constituency to agree with a different direction.

"It might not... be through cyber attack or stealing data, it might be through rather more basic influencing campaigns as we've seen Russia engage in over the many many years.

The report follows a year of continued concern about Russian attempts to influence other democracies, prompted by the ongoing investigations into their alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Prime Minister Theresa May hit out at President Vladimir Putin in a speech in November.

"I have a very simple message for Russia," she said, "We know what you are doing. And you will not succeed.

"Because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free and open societies, and the commitment of western nations to the alliances that bind us."