Putin denies Russian Federation responsible for MH17 downing

May 25, 2018, 22:43
Putin denies Russian Federation responsible for MH17 downing

Bodies, debris and burning wreckage were strewn over a field of sunflowers near the rebel-held village of Hrabove in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, about 40 kilometres from the Russian border, where fighting had been raging for months.

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS-A day after worldwide prosecutors said they had unequivocal evidence of Russian involvement in the downing of a Malaysian passenger jet over Ukraine almost four years ago, the Netherlands and Australia on Friday announced they were holding Moscow legally responsible for its role in the missile attack.

"On the basis of the JIT's conclusions, the Netherlands and Australia are now convinced that Russian Federation is responsible for the deployment of the Buk installation that was used to down MH17", Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok said in a statement on Friday.

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said the Netherlands and Australia would seek unspecified financial damages.

The JIT said it had again requested information from Russian Federation, which had failed to tell it of this missile unit's activities, and put out another open call for confidential witness testimony.

The Boeing 777 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down on July 17, 2014.

Mr Lavrov said his Dutch counterpart had been unable to provide evidence of Russia's involvement in the downing of the passenger plane, TASS reported.

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Investigators on Thursday said the missile that shot down the plane was sacked from a missile launcher in Russia's 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade, but stopped short of saying who actually fired the fatal shot.

Despite longstanding suspicion and a mounting body of evidence pointing to Russia's involvement, this is the first time governments have officially accused Moscow over the incident.

It said a possible next step would be presenting its findings to an worldwide court - which could eventually lead to charges against individuals.

"If our partners [an apparent reference to the Netherlands] decided even in this case of a greatest human tragedy, the death of hundreds of people, to speculate on it for achieving their political goals, I leave it on their conscience".

MH17's high-altitude flight path was thought to be safe, despite warnings about the rebels' missile capability.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, rejected the accusations.

He told reporters gathered for a press conference in Utrecht that "the 53rd Brigade forms part of the Russian armed forces".

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The 2014 resolution was sponsored by Australia - which suffered one of the largest losses of life on the flight - and expressed support for the global investigation efforts, as well as calling on all United Nations member states "to provide any requested assistance to civil and criminal investigations".

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and "the division of military material", Ukraine which possessed some 20 BUK anti-aircraft systems has "not had one new missile delivered", the Russian defence ministry said.

But they are appealing for further information, especially about who was among the BUK's crew, and who ordered the plane to be shot down.

Investigators also displayed parts of the engine casing and exhaust system of a Buk 9M38 series missile recovered from eastern Ukraine and showed photos of a unique serial number on the missile.

"All findings from this forensic investigation confirm the earlier conclusion of the JIT that Flight MH17 was shot down by 9M38 series missile", said Jennifer Hurst of the Australian Federal Police.

"All points lead to a centralised military operation", Bellingcat researcher Moritz Rakuszitzky told reporters.

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