Russia link in missile that shot down MH17

Friday, 25 May, 2018

A Dutch-led investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 said Thursday that the missile that took down the jet had come from Russia's 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade.

The Malaysian Airlines aircraft was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it broke apart in mid-air over eastern Ukraine, killing all passengers on board.

The ministry accused Ukraine of being behind the disaster in which 298 people died, saying it had presented evidence that "showed the involvement of Ukrainian units using (Soviet-designed) BUK missiles".

The investigators had previously concluded that the plane was hit by a Russian-made BUK missile brought in from Russia and fired from territory in Ukraine held by Moscow-backed rebels.

Russia has provided exhaustive evidence pointing to the involvement of the Ukrainian BUK system crews in the destruction of the MH17 flight, Russian Defense Ministry said.

The Joint Investigative Team, which includes investigators from Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine, has called on Russian authorities to provide information about the personnel potentially involved in the strike on MH17, but Moscow is refusing to cooperate, denying any involvement in the deadly incident.

Russian Federation denies interfering in Ukraine's internal affairs, despite compelling evidence that Moscow has provided military, economic, and political support to separatists fighting against Kyiv.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

The findings also claim that the missile carrier came from Russian Federation and was returned to the country. The Bellingcat report used pictures and data from open sources, showing the Buk system on both sides of the border and claiming it was the same. However, Russia's Almaz-Antey, which developed the Buk missile system, rejected the findings, saying that three simulations showed that the missile was launched from the Zaroshchenske area, which was controlled by the Ukrainian army at the time of the downing.

"This raises questions such as to whether the brigade was actively involved in downing MH17", he added.

He said also the team's investigation is not yet complete.

Ultimately, any suspects identified and charged will be prosecuted in Dutch courts - if they can be arrested and brought to trial.

In an interim update on their investigation, prosecutors said they had trimmed their list of possible suspects from more than a hundred to several dozen.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he would shorten his visit to India by a day in order to join a cabinet meeting on Friday to discuss the new findings. Russian bloggers, journalists, aviation experts, and volunteers united in the group to highlight significant flaws and inaccuracies in the Bellingcat version of the tragedy.

Almost 10,000 people were killed during the conflict that broke out between pro-Russia fighters and Ukrainian government forces.