Netherlands, Australia hold Russian Federation liable for downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

Posted May 25, 2018

"The 53rd Brigade forms part of the Russian armed forces", he told reporters on Thursday.

FILE - In this Tuesday, Sept 9, 2014.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down over the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine.

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 25 miles from the Russian border, where fighting had been raging for months.

The investigation is in its "final phase" and it won't take many more years to find missing information, Dutch prosecutor and JIT coordinator Fred Westerbeke said at the press briefing yesterday.

The missile system that shot down flight MH17 was then filmed several times on July 17 and 18 in eastern Ukraine as it was transported on a low flatbed truck-and-trailer.

He said investigators had traced the convoy to a Russian brigade.

Separately, the NATO chief told RFE/RL that members of the military alliance will address a wide range of issues during a session of the NATO-Russia Council planned for May 31, including "the challenges we see with increased military activity along our borders".

The Netherlands and Australia say it violated global law.

Three days later, the Russian 53rd Anti-aircraft Missile Brigade's Buk launcher number 332, which had been transported to Ukraine from Kursk, downed MH17, Belligcat said.

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"Bellingcat has determined with very high certainty that at the time of the downing of MH17, Oleg Ivannikov was an officer of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Ministry of Defense (GRU), and served in that function until at least as late as September 2017", the report said.

The US State Department said on Thursday the United States had "complete confidence" in the findings and called on Russian Federation to admit its involvement.

Russian officials, who have since the plane went down put out a raft of theories to shift the blame to Ukraine, began pushing back against the allegation nearly immediately.

They have identified two people, who go by the aliases Orion and Delfin, as top suspects after obtaining their wire-tapped conversations before and after the plane was shot out of the sky.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he had been informed by his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok that "they have practically no doubt that the BUK came from Russian Federation".

"If military weapons can be deployed and then used to bring down civilian aircraft in what was essentially a war zone, then global security is at risk and we call on all countries to inform the Russian Federation that its conduct is unacceptable", she said.

"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", he added. "We are discussing these findings with our partners and considering our options".

If the investigation identifies and charges any suspects - and they can be arrested and brought to trial - they will be prosecuted in Dutch courts. "A possible next step is to present the case to an worldwide court or organization for their judgment".

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, has said that Russia has been barred from the worldwide investigation and thus can't trust its results.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders urged all countries to cooperate fully with the investigation "so that those responsible can be brought to justice".

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