Performance Maximum speed: Mach 0.8 (975 km/h, 526 knots, 606 mph) at sea levelThe Russian report claims that the SU-25 was 3.5km from M17. 3.5KM is 11,482.94 feet. Note that 33,000 is 21, 518 feet, well within the operating ceiling of the SU-25 jet. This is contrary to claims made by persons such as Paul Craig Roberts who wrote:
Combat range: 750 km (405 nmi, 466 mi) at sea level, 4,400 kg (9,700 lb) weapons and two external tanks
Service ceiling: 7,000 m (22,965 ft) clean, 5,000 m (16,000 ft) with max weapons
Rate of climb: 58 m/s (11,400 ft/min)
Another fact is that the separatists have no incentive to shoot down an airliner and neither does Russia. Anyone can tell the difference between low-flying attack aircraft and an airliner at 33,000 feet.No, the separatists may not have incentive to shoot down an airliner but they do have an incentive and have indeed shot down Ukrainian airplanes. And if the report from RT is correct, it is highly likely that they mistook the civilian aircraft as a military one "under guard" of a fighter jet. Obviously I don't know this for a fact and have no way to prove this. But it is certainly more likely than Putin ordered the plane shot down and sent people in Ukraine to do so.