Published: Sun, May 27, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Netherlands, Australia Hold Russia Liable for Downing MH17

Netherlands, Australia Hold Russia Liable for Downing MH17

Investigators said at a news conference in the Netherlands on Thursday that the Buk missile that brought down the plane over eastern Ukraine belonged to the 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade of the Russian army based in Kursk, Russia.

The missile used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 aboard, belonged to a Russia-based military unit, an global team of investigators said Thursday after painstakingly studying video and photos of a military convoy.

A Dutch cabinet statement said a "possible" next step would be presenting the case to an worldwide court or organisation for their judgment, adding Australia shared its assessment of Russia's role.

This is the first time the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) - made up of crime experts from Australia, Malaysia, Ukraine, Belgium and the Netherlands - has come close to suggesting Russian complicity in downing the airliner, even to the extent of providing the missile system.

MH17 was shot down over territory held by pro-Russian separatist forces as it flew from Amsterdam en route to Kuala Lumpur.

The accusations followed worldwide investigators' announcement Thursday that the missile system that downed the plane was whisked into Ukraine from a Russian military unit.

In the interim update on their investigation, prosecutors said they had trimmed their list of possible suspects from more than a hundred to several dozen. All 298 passengers and crew were killed.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov compared the MH17 case to British allegations that Moscow is responsible for poisoning former spy Sergey Skripal - another charge widely believed in the West that the Kremlin denies.

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The Kremlin on Friday rejected allegations of any Russian involvement in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov telling reporters that Russia could not trust the investigation's findings because it had not been its fully-fledged participant.

One American was killed in the MH17 shootdown, but no comment yet from Donald Trump administration on evidence showing that Russian military fired missile that blew the 777 out of sky. They said they had conclusively identified a person who went by the call sign "Orion", whose voice is heard in phone calls intercepted by Ukraine's SBU security service, as an officer of Russia's GRU military intelligence service named Oleg Ivannikov.

The Russian Defense Ministry claims that a missile that downed down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 aboard, "more than likely" came from Ukrainian arsenals. But based on Shvytkin's quotes, it appears he misunderstood what the JIT said about how they identified the Buk.

"We are still ready to cooperate", Lavrov added, saying that information that Russian Federation has supplied should not be ignored or used selectively.

The step by the Dutch and Australian governments is "separate from the criminal investigation and any prosecution and trial of the perpetrators of the downing of flight MH17", according to Blok's statement on Friday.

Investigation officials have not yet said who actually fired the missile, stressing that the probe continues.

They also confirmed the vehicles had serial numbers and other markings that were unique to the 53rd brigade, based in the western Russian city of Kursk.

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