Russian president Vladimir Putin on television sets in a Moscow electronic goods store (Getty)
Russian president Vladimir Putin on television sets in a Moscow electronic goods store (Getty)

State-controlled Russian media has proposed a series of conspiracy theories on the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, as the propaganda war over the disaster intensifies.

Television news outlet Russia 24 reported speculation that the plane was brought down by Ukrainian forces who thought that it was the presidential jet of Russian president Vladimir Putin, which it reported crossed flight paths with MH17 earlier that day returning from Latin America.

It quoted former Ukrainian defence minister Anatoliy Grytsenko, who has called for greater Nato involvement in the conflict and for Putin to be assassinated.

Others argued that Ukrainian forces had downed the jet in an effort to draw Nato into their fight against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company was caught by a Twitter robot attempting to edit a Wikipedia page on the disaster, alleging that Ukrainian soldiers were responsible for downing the plane.

The Twitter programme automatically tweets attempts to alter Wikipedia pages from Russian government IP addresses.

"Because the Kremlin feels like an accessory to this event, the mass media is working in step, stressing different points to distract attention from the Kremlin," Oleg Kozyrev, a popular opposition-friendly blogger and media analyst in Moscow told Foreign Policy.

Russia 24 asserted in one broadcast that the plane could have come under fire because it diverted from its flight path, with some claiming in the media that the plane was more than 300 km off route.

Malaysia Airlines said that the route the plane took had been approved by Eurocontrol, the aircraft supervisory body, and was often flown by other planes, with another plane following the route behind MH17.

"Or, if that doesn't work, at least to talk around the topic, to make viewers think this is not all so clear-cut, that maybe it wasn't the separatists."

In Izvestiya, columnist Maxim Kononenko discusses "the apparent willingness of the Kiev authorities to ensure that such an incident can happen."

Kononenko claims that the Kiev authorities were aware that the pro-Russian militants were in possession of Buk surface-to-air missile systems but did not issue a no-fly order over Ukraine, only an order for planes to fly at a minimum of 32,000 feet. The Buk is capable of launching rockets to 73,000 feet.

He argues that Kiev was aware that the rebels possessed Buk launchers as early as June 29, when Russian news agency RIA Novosti claimed that rebels had seized a number from Ukrainian forces.

Shortly after the plane came down, Ukrainian government branded it "an act of terrorism", and has since released recordings which it claims prove rebels are behind the attack.

The US government has also blamed the rebels.

Political analyst Alexei Makarkin said that as long as there was no conclusive evidence on who was responsible for shooting down the aircraft , Moscow would continue to deny responsibility.

"It must be proven 100 percent for Russia to admit its guilt in supporting the rebels," he told Foreign Policy.