Residents of the Ukrainian village where a Malaysian airliner was shot down with 298 people aboard are marking the disaster's anniversary.

Villagers carrying flowers gathered in the church in the center of Hrabove at the start of a procession to the crash site in nearby fields.

Friday's ceremony will include the dedication of a small stone with a plaque. The commemoration is organized by local leaders and the Russia-backed separatist rebels who control the area.

It comes amid an escalating war of words over who was responsible for destroying the plane.

Ukrainian and Western authorities say the plane was downed by a missile fired either by rebels or Russian troops who allegedly back them.

The rebels and Moscow say it was hit by a Ukrainian warplane or a Ukrainian-fired missile.