Russian missile downed MH17 in 2014

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 27, 2018

The Russian Defense Ministry dismissed the findings of an worldwide investigative team that announced Thursday it had unequivocal evidence that a Russian-made missile shot down a Malaysian Airlines jet over eastern Ukraine four years ago, killing all 298 people aboard.

For the first time, the Dutch-led team said the missile came from a Russian brigade based in the city of Kursk.

The joint probe team says the missile was sacked by Russia's 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade.

Russian arms manufacturer Almaz-Antey also rejected the findings, insisting that its simulations place the suspected missile launch in an areas controlled by Ukrainian government forces during the time of the incident.

Flight MH17 with 298 people on board, two-thirds of them Dutch, was hit by a Russian-made missile over territory in eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian separatists.

The passenger jet was heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, when it was blown out of the sky over eastern Ukraine.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the downing of the Boeing 777 flight, putting the blame instead on Kiev.

Media captionHow does a Buk missile system work?

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report Thursday made the clearest link yet to the involvement of Russian military in the deadly missile strike.

The JIT determined in 2016 that MH17 was shot down from separatist-held territory in the Donetsk region by a Buk antiaircraft system provided by the Russian military. The Ukrainian government suggested that a BUK missile had been brought in from Russian Federation on the day of the crash, and then taken back across the border the next day.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte chose to shorten his visit to India by a day and join cabinet talks on May 25 about the new findings, Dutch news agency ANP reported.

The ministry further suggested that numerous images investigators used to trace the path of the Buk launcher came from social media and were likely doctored or altered.

Investigators now say that their careful analysis of video and photos from social media and analysis of parts of the rocket found at the crash scene traced its journey into Ukraine and had given them a "fingerprint" identifying the rocket and where it came from. This action, he said, "should be of grave global concern".

The next challenge would be to identify members of the crew who operated the missile and determine how high up the chain of command the order originated.

The head of the Dutch investigation team, Fred Westerbeke, told the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta last October: "We will disclose everything when this investigation is over, and we will give the names at the trial".

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok called the latest findings "an important piece of the puzzle", adding that he is "very impressed by the evidence that has been collected".

But the worldwide investigative team said their findings stood independently and that they possessed additional information to buttress their conclusions that they would unveil only in eventual courtroom proceedings. Under an agreement reached with the countries taking part in the joint probe, any suspects arrested in the case will be prosecuted in the Netherlands.

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