Russia says further MH17 consultations with Australia, the Netherlands are meaningless

Russia has withdrawn from talks with Australia and the Netherlands launched nearly two years ago to establish responsibility for the 2014 downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

Russia's foreign ministry said it was pointless to continue consultations with Australia and the Netherlands over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, accusing both countries of not seeking to establish what happened.

Russia said investigations conducted had been biased and politicised.

Dutch Foreign Ministry Says Probe Started Into Why Ukraine Did Not Close Skies Over MH17 Crash Site

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur went down in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, at the height of the civil war between Kiev and Donbass militias. All 298 people aboard the Boeing 777 jumbo jet were killed. In the years since, Kiev and the militias have blamed each other for the tragedy.

The Flight Safety Foundation, an independent US-based non-profit, has begun an investigation into why Kiev did not close the airspace over the war zone in eastern Ukraine where MH17 was destroyed in July 2014.

"The inquiry has started, and is carried out by a third party, the Flight Safety Foundation. The inquiry will look at the closure of the airspace above eastern Ukraine and regions surrounding the conflict area (including the territory of the Russian Federation)," the ministry said.

Friday marks the sixth anniversary of the deadly aerial incident, which has since become the source of competing back-and-forth claims about who is responsible for the disaster. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte sent out a video message to the relatives of the victims, 193 of whom were Dutch nationals, where he emphasized the importance of honouring their memory.

"Unfortunately, the event was organized differently this year because of the coronavirus. But I am convinced that this does not lessen the sense of connection. And it makes the one minute of silence only more powerful," Rutte said.

MH17: Tragedy Turned Into Political Scandal

In addition to being one of the deadliest air disasters in history, the MH17 incident has become a major political scandal. Immediately after the crash, Kiev accused Donbass militias of shooting the plane down, with the pro-independence militia fighters insisting that they did not have the advanced air defence systems to down an airliner flying at over 21,000 feet, and blaming Kiev for the disaster.

Shortly thereafter, without presenting any evidence, the US and its European allies accused Russia of responsibility for the tragedy through Moscow's alleged support for the militias, and used the claims as a pretext to introduce new sanctions against Moscow. Russian officials denied the allegations.

An investigation conducted by a joint investigative team led by the Dutch prosecutor general alleged that flight MH17 was shot down by a Russian-made Buk anti-aircraft missile which had been transferred to the eastern Ukrainian militias. Russia was not allowed to take part in the investigation, and refused to recognize its conclusions. At the same time, Moscow has accused investigators of dismissing all evidence and expert assessments which ran counter to a predetermined conclusion of alleged Russian involvement, while ruling out possible Ukrainian military involvement. As their evidence, the joint investigative team investigators cited "classified information" allegedly provided by Dutch and US authorities which could not be revealed to the public.

Russia subsequently carried out its own investigation, including studies of forensic evidence, the declassification of previously secret information about advanced military hardware, and a complex experiment by defence concern Almaz-Antey, makers of the Buk type air defence missile, which concluded that flight MH17 was shot down by an older variant of the missile built in 1986 and belonging to Ukraine. Russia fully retired its stocks of Soviet-era Buks in the 2000s as part of a large-scale modernization of its military.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad has similarly questioned the investigators' allegations, accusing them of "trying to pin" the blame on Russia instead of engaging in a "neutral kind of examination," and complaining that Malaysia itself has not been allowed to examine the plane's black box. The ex-prime minister also pointed out that the Buk missile said to have been used to shoot down the plane could have been fired by Ukraine's army, and said that "strong evidence" would be needed before conclusions in such a serious case could be made.

Late last month, Dutch prosecutors moved to postpone further MH17-related hearings in a trial against three Russians and one Ukrainian charged in absentia with operating the Buk, from this autumn until February-March 2021 at the request of the attorneys and representatives of the victims. The trial, which began in March, was resumed in June after a hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Russia itself is not a party to those proceedings.

In a related development, last week, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok announced that Amsterdam would be filing a lawsuit against Russia with the European Court of Human Rights over the MH17 disaster, and would be sending an official note on the matter to the United Nations Security Council. Russia's ministry of justice urged the Court to "evaluate its applicability" with the participation of all parties implicated, and reiterated that Moscow firmly rejects accusations of playing any role in the plane's destruction.

Moscow Slams Hague's Decision to Bring Russia Before European Court of Human Rights Over MH17 Crash

The news comes after the Dutch Public Prosecution Service agreed to delay the hearings from this autumn to February-March 2021, after a request by attorneys and representatives of the victims.

The Netherlands plans to file a lawsuit against Russia with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over the flight MH17 catastrophe, according to Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok.

The Dutch cabinet also plans to send an official note about the lawsuit to the UN Security Council.

The statement is issued as the Dutch court, holding the hearings at the Schiphol Judicial Complex in Badhoevedorp, declined a request by the defence to ask NATO to provide satellite data on the crash. According to the judges, the information from the AWACS aircraft "did not yield any relevant data for the investigation".

Previously, Ukraine also failed to present primary radar data on the incident, "as the radar was not operating at that moment".

Commenting on the hearing, Moscow stressed that the court has generally ignored the information provided by Russia, while unquestioningly accepting data from Ukraine, despite it being an interested party. ECHR Confirms It Received Dutch Claim Against Russia Over MH17 Case

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) confirmed on Friday that it had received the Netherlands' claim against Russia regarding its alleged role in the 2014 deadly crash of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine.

"We confirm that the Court has received an application filed by the NL [the Netherlands] Government and directed against the Russian Federation concerning flight MH17. It is currently under examination and further details will be given in due course," the ECHR said.

ECHR Has Not Notified Russia About Dutch Claim Over MH17 Crash

The Russian authorities have not received any notification from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) about the Netherlands' claim related to the circumstances of the MH17 flight's crash over eastern Ukraine back in 2014, the Russian Ministry of Justice said on Friday.

"The Russian Federation authorities have not been notified by the ECHR about the Netherlands filing a claim against Russia over the Malaysian Boeing's crash in 2014 in the skies over Ukraine," the Ministry of Justice said in a statement.

The ministry added it would engage in necessary action in cooperation with relevant agencies if it was notified about the claim.

"Before considering the claim on the merits, the ECHR should evaluate its applicability, with the participation of the sides. This stage could last for several years. It should be noted that Russia firmly refutes accusations of playing a role in the Boeing's crash," the statement read on.

MH17 Crash Over Donbass

Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was downed over the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014, amid a military conflict in the county caused by a violent coup d'état in Kiev. Ukrainian forces in the area were clashing with militia from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic, which refused to submit to Kiev and expressed their intention to unite with Russia.

All 298 passengers on the aircraft, including 198 Dutch nationals, died in the crash.

Almost immediately after the incident, the US and its European allies claimed without presenting any evidence that Russia was responsible for the tragedy. These allegations were used by Washington and Brussels as a pretext to introduce sanctions against Moscow, while Russia repeatedly denied the accusations.

A Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT), formed soon after the crash, invited Ukraine, Belgium, and Australia to join the probe, but excluded Russia from the investigation.

In 2018, JIT claimed that the plane was shot down by a Buk missile system, which allegedly came from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the Russian military, citing "classified information" provided by the Dutch and US authorities that could not be revealed. It was also noted that the team used images from social networks to prove the claims.

Addressing the allegations, Moscow conducted its own investigation showing that the Buk missile which allegedly hit the flight was made at the Dolgoprudny Plant in the Moscow Region in 1986, delivered to a military unit in Ukraine, and remained there after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. However, the evidence was completely ignored by the Dutch-led investigation.

After several years of investigating, JIT has named 3 Russian citizens (Oleg Pulatov, Igor Girkin, and Sergey Dubinsky) as well as one Ukrainian (Leonid Kharchenko) as suspects in the MH17 downing.

Dutch Prosecutors Agree to Postpone Malaysian MH17 Crash Hearings Until Early 2021

Netherlands Public Prosecution Service has agreed to postpone hearings in substance of the Boeing MH17 crash case from this fall to February-March of next year as requested by attorneys and representatives of victims, prosecutor Ward Ferdinandusse said on Friday.

"If the legal team and representatives of relatives [of victims] need more time, the prosecution service will take it into account... Taking into account yesterday's letter from the council of relatives, we propose to approve a preliminary schedule of further substantive hearings and hold them in February-March of 2021 instead of this fall", Ferdinandusse said at a public hearing.

Ferdinandusse also said that prosecutors refused to look into viability of a scenario where the Boeing could have been downed by a Ukrainian military plane, as requested by attorneys of Oleg Pulatov, one of the suspects, Russian national. According to the prosecutor, considerations of an alternative scenario can only be launched if it is plausible, whereas all current evidence — including traces of damage on the plane and bodies, data from radars and intercepted phone talks — support the missile hit scenario.

"All this evidence suggest that the plane was downed by a Buk missile. Pulatov had to provide evidence that could refute this evidence", Ferdinandusse said.

Earlier this week, Pulatov's attorney Sabine ten Doesschate requested an inquiry into radar data to determine if any military aircraft were in vicinity of the downed Boeing on the crash day, claiming a precedent from 2001 when Ukrainian soldiers mistakenly downed Russian plane Tu-154.

Three other suspects — Russian nationals Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinsky, and Leonid Kharchenko of Ukraine — have their cases ready for substantial hearings, expected to begin in the fall.

The Malaysian jetliner crashed in July of 2014 while flying over a conflict zone in Ukraine's east from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people on board were killed. The prosecution believes that the plane was downed by a Russian missile launched from Ukraine's breakaway east.

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Defence at MH17 Hearing Suggests Ukrainian Armed Forces May Have Hit Plane by Mistake

The Ukrainian military may have hit the MH17 passenger plane in 2014 by mistake, Sabine ten Doesschate, the defence lawyer for Oleg Pulatov, said Tuesday.

The Dutch prosecutors consider the scenario unlikely, but the Ukrainian military had access to a large number of weapons, the lawyer said.

Ten Doesschate suggested that the Ukrainian military may have been mistaken, similarly to what happened in 2001 with Siberia Airlines Flight 1812, which was shot down over the Black Sea.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crashed on 17 July 2014, in eastern Ukraine while en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 people aboard. The accident is being investigated by Dutch prosecutors and the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team, which claim that the plane was hit by a Russian Buk missile. Moscow has repeatedly denied involvement in the incident.

Hearings in the case of the 2014 downing of flight MH17 in Ukraine resumed in the Dutch Schiphol Judicial Complex on Monday. At the current hearing, the defence is expected to present its position on issues that were previously raised by the prosecution, as well as voice its requests.

The prosecution, among other things, will have to explain why it requested more time to investigate the case against Pulatov before proceeding to consider his case on the merits.

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Dutch Prosecutors Agree to Postpone Malaysian MH17 Crash Hearings Until Early 2021

Netherlands Public Prosecution Service has agreed to postpone hearings in substance of the Boeing MH17 crash case from this fall to February-March of next year as requested by attorneys and representatives of victims, prosecutor Ward Ferdinandusse said on Friday.

"If the legal team and representatives of relatives [of victims] need more time, the prosecution service will take it into account... Taking into account yesterday's letter from the council of relatives, we propose to approve a preliminary schedule of further substantive hearings and hold them in February-March of 2021 instead of this fall", Ferdinandusse said at a public hearing.

Ferdinandusse also said that prosecutors refused to look into viability of a scenario where the Boeing could have been downed by a Ukrainian military plane, as requested by attorneys of Oleg Pulatov, one of the suspects, Russian national. According to the prosecutor, considerations of an alternative scenario can only be launched if it is plausible, whereas all current evidence — including traces of damage on the plane and bodies, data from radars and intercepted phone talks — support the missile hit scenario.

"All this evidence suggest that the plane was downed by a Buk missile. Pulatov had to provide evidence that could refute this evidence", Ferdinandusse said.

Earlier this week, Pulatov's attorney Sabine ten Doesschate requested an inquiry into radar data to determine if any military aircraft were in vicinity of the downed Boeing on the crash day, claiming a precedent from 2001 when Ukrainian soldiers mistakenly downed Russian plane Tu-154.

Three other suspects — Russian nationals Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinsky, and Leonid Kharchenko of Ukraine — have their cases ready for substantial hearings, expected to begin in the fall.

The Malaysian jetliner crashed in July of 2014 while flying over a conflict zone in Ukraine's east from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people on board were killed. The prosecution believes that the plane was downed by a Russian missile launched from Ukraine's breakaway east.

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Dutch prosecution can add MH17 Boeing crash suspect’s interviews to court case

The Dutch Public Prosecution Service might attach the media statements put forward by one of the suspects, former leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) militia Igor Girkin (Strelkov) to the court case, spokeswoman for the Dutch prosecution service Brechtje van de Moosdijk told TASS Monday.

"Interviews can be added to the court file, which as you know is very large and contains all kinds of documents. It remains to be seen if certain interviews of Girkin will be used as [supporting] evidence, I cannot say this right now," she said.

Earlier, Girkin told The Times that he feels "moral responsibility" for the MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine in 2014. Read also Russian Foreign Ministry debunks Dutch newspaper article on alleged meddling in MH17 case

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, a Boeing-777 passenger plane travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down on July 17, 2014, over Ukraine’s eastern region of Donetsk. The crash killed all the 283 passengers, citizens of 10 countries, and 15 crewmembers. In spite of the active armed conflict on the ground, Kiev did not close its airspace over the Donbass region to international passenger flights. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) looking into the crash is made up of representatives from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine.

On May 24, 2018 the experts published a provisional report, claiming that the missile system that was used to down Flight MH17 could have been transferred from Russia and be a part of the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile brigade near Kursk. Moscow rejects the JIT accusations. Particularly, the Russian Defense Ministry said that no Russian army missile system had ever crossed the Ukrainian border. Moreover, the defense ministry’s representatives reported that they had identified the missile that was launched to down the Boeing and established that it was transferred over to the Ukrainian troops back in 1986 and had never returned to Russia since.

In June 2019, the JIT said it had identified four persons suspected of being involved in the MH17 crash. They are three Russian nationals Igor Girkin, also known under the nickname of Strelkov, Sergei Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and a Ukrainian national, Leonid Kharchenko. They are accused of allegedly transporting the missile system that downed the plane to Ukraine from Russia. The trial began in the Netherlands on March 9.

Russian officials have repeatedly expressed doubts and distrust of the results of the JIT's work, pointed to the groundless nature of arguments the accusations are based on and unwillingness to use Russian conclusions in the course of the investigation.

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MH17 Suspect Admits ‘Moral Responsibility’ for Downing Jet

A Russian suspect in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 has said he feels “a moral responsibility” for the deaths of 298 people but refused to admit to downing the passenger jet, Britain’s The Times newspaper reported Wednesday.

Igor Girkin, 49, is one of three Russian suspects who, along with one Ukrainian suspect, are accused by a Dutch-led investigation of shooting down MH17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, during the war between pro-Russian separatists and Kiev. None of the defendants, who are also charged with murdering MH17's passengers, are expected to attend their trial in the Netherlands, which has been suspended until June.

“In as much as I was the commander of the rebels and a participant in the conflict, I feel a moral responsibility for these deaths,” Girkin told The Times.

Girkin, a Russian army veteran and ex-Federal Security Service (FSB) officer, was adamant that the pro-Russian separatists under his command “did not bring down the plane.”

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Is Malaysia’s Position on MH17 Tragedy Shifting?

A long-awaited court trial of four suspects implicated in the July 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 began today (March 9) at The Hague in the Netherlands.

Three Russian nationals and one Ukrainian have been indicted for the murder of all 298 passengers aboard the ill-fated flight, which was shot down over eastern Ukraine more than five years ago.

“This is a significant milestone toward finding the truth and establishing justice for the victims of the flight MH17 tragedy,” read a March 7 statement issued by Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“For justice to prevail,” the statement said, will require a “credible and transparent process based on the rule of law.”

The statement is one of the first issued by Malaysia since Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn-in on March 1, and signals a distinct new tone from outgoing premier Mahathir Mohamad’s outlier position on the proceedings.

During his nearly two-year tenure, Mahathir alleged that the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) leading a probe into the disaster had been biased and politicized against Russia.

Though economic ties between Moscow and Putrajaya are modest, the two countries forged closer strategic links during Mahathir’s first and second premierships.

Malaysia’s perceived closeness to Russia, according to various Malaysian officials and reports, led to the Southeast Asian nation being stonewalled as the MH17 investigation unfolded.

While Muhyiddin’s days-old premiership is still taking shape, observers are closely watching whether or not his administration will echo past skepticism of the multinational probe.

Though Mahathir’s government did not oppose a trial, as a small number of civil society groups in Malaysia did, he claimed that evidence against the four accused was lacking and amounted to “hearsay.”

The then-premier’s remarks sparked diplomatic controversy and upset many of the victims’ next-of-kin. Mahathir’s positions, however, continue to be shared by some Malaysian officials who dealt firsthand with the disaster.

Fauziah Mohd Taib, Malaysia’s Ambassador to the Netherlands when the MH17 plane was shot down, is among them.

“From the beginning, I sensed it already. They were trying to keep me away, trying to keep Malaysia away [from the investigation],” the 64-year-old ex-diplomat said in an interview with Asia Times.

The retired envoy claimed that mutual distrust among countries in the JIT led to Malaysia being initially sidelined from the probe.

While Malaysia is part of the multinational JIT, along with Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ukraine, the grouping’s investigation began without its participation, a sore point that influenced Mahathir’s stance.

As owner of the fallen aircraft, Malaysia was entitled to appoint observers to the probe and be briefed on its findings, according to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) protocols.

But it was only invited to join the criminal probe as an equal member in late November 2014, over four months after MH17 was brought down on July 17.

Fauziah, however, said her country’s prosecutorial representative was only allowed to attend meetings related to the criminal probe in March 2015.

“This is our airplane, our people were also there, all the crew members were Malaysian. Why are we not in the investigation? I found the Dutch to be pulling back when we talk about it,” she said.

“We wanted to join in the JIT from the beginning. We could join the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) daily briefings, which I attended,” she said in reference to the board’s civilian investigation tasked with determining the cause of the crash.

Malaysia, she said, was initially kept out of legal deliberations to apportion blame and criminal charges against suspects.

“They only wanted people from the prosecutor’s office. So, if you are not a lawyer, not a prosecutor, you cannot come in. Even then, there was no official invitation for us. There was no clearance, yet we insisted on being equal partners,” she said.

The veteran diplomat claimed Malaysia’s cordial ties with Russia were cause for it to be isolated from the process.

“I received some information from my colleagues in the Netherlands that it was Ukraine who didn’t want us in because they think we are quite inclined to Russia,” Fauziah said. “But we never made any statement to say that we are pro-Russia or anti-Ukraine. There were no statements, official statements or even implied statements.”

In 2016, investigators concluded that the Malaysian aircraft was hit by a Russian-made Buk-9M38 series missile fired from rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatist militias and government forces were engaged in fierce combat. Moscow denies charges that it supplied the missile system which brought down the plane.

The Netherlands and Australia announced in May 2018 that they would hold the Russian state legally responsible for the downing of MH17. Dutch media later reported that Malaysia was only notified of the politically sensitive move just prior to its announcement over fears that it would relay those intentions to Moscow through diplomatic backchannels.

Fauziah claimed that the JIT’s practice of keeping Malaysia at a diplomatic arm’s length helped to validate perceptions of Russia being politically scapegoated by the probe, a position that Mahathir repeatedly affirmed to the bewilderment of public opinion in the Netherlands, which lost 198 of its citizens in the disaster, and elsewhere.

The former Malaysian envoy did not dispute Russia’s support for the rebels in eastern Ukraine, though she claimed Moscow’s own version of events were not examined by the probe. “Because [the JIT] were apportioning blame from the beginning, I think the Russian side should have been given the opportunity to explain themselves,” she said.

“You’ve already blamed Russia and you have already started to enforce sanctions. Why are you doing this when you don’t know yet? That was what I told them,” Fauziah said in reference to economic sanctions levelled against Moscow by the United States and the European Union on July 29, 2014 over its role in the MH17 incident.

“From there I noticed there was this ‘you are not my friend’ kind of feeling. You can see it’s a geopolitical game already. Immediately, you have all finger-pointing to Russia. They were taking advantage of the victims of the incident to come up with something they’ve been waiting for, an opportunity,” she claimed.

It is unlikely that those sentiments will inform the Muhyiddin administration’s stance toward the trial, which is expected to continue throughout 2020. Despite Mahathir’s contrarian position, his government had formally endorsed the JIT’s findings while calling for transparent scrutiny of existing evidence and the gathering of additional data.

There is at least one indication that the new Malaysian government seeks to quiet internal critics.

Colonel Mohd Sakri Hussin, the chief negotiator of a Malaysian team that covertly entered rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine to retrieve MH17’s flight data recorders and victim remains, had been due to speak at a documentary screening in London on March 3.

Sakri and Mahathir appeared in the online investigative documentary MH17 – Call for Justice and the former had travelled to the United Kingdom to take part in the event’s panel discussion.

Event co-organizer Bonanza Media confirmed to Asia Times that Muhyiddin’s newly-appointed government requested the colonel not to address the gathering, to which he complied.

At present, Dutch prosecutors hold four individuals responsible for the downing of MH17: Russian nationals Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Igor Girkin, and Ukrainian, Leonid Kharchenko.

None of the four suspects were crew members of the vehicle that fired the missile, but are believed to have colluded with those who carried out the attack.

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Australian Police: some documents in the case of MH17, common platform Bonanza Media are authentic

The Australian Police confirmed that some documents in the case of MH17, common platform Bonanza Media are authentic.

It is noted that this document was prepared by Federal police as part of the ongoing investigation. Dutch prosecutors refused to comment on the authenticity.

One of the leaked documents contains a transcript of the conversation of German journalist Billy six’s with representatives of law enforcement agencies of Australia in relation to the witnesses who saw the day of the crash MH17 Ukrainian fighter jets.

The second document says that a year after the Australian disaster experts worked with non-original cropped images that, as it turned out, was edited.

In the third paper, Dutch intelligence concludes, has no information about the presence of any BUK missile system near the crash site of MH17.

The fourth document is a transcript of the conversation between the Dutch police with an unknown witness who is sure that few minutes before the tragedy two Ukrainian fighters appeared in that area.

By Thomas Channeton

No Buk missile systems detected near MH17 crash zone — leaked document

The July 2014 crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 took place in the region where no Buk missile systems were deployed at the time of the tragedy, according to a leaked document of the Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service.

According to the document, sent to Dutch prosecutors, flight MH17 was flying beyond the range of all identified and operational Ukrainian and Russian locations where 9K37M1 Buk M1 systems were deployed.

Dutch journalist Max van der Werff, who founded Bonanza Media together with his Russian colleague Yana Yerlashova, said that for him, "the main conclusion is that the Dutch had information about the mobile Buk positions during the conflict."

"This information we had not seen before," he told TASS. "And the military, the Dutch, conclude that they have no information of any Buk missile systems close to MH17."

Three more documents

In all, four documents have been published. Apart from the report on Buk positions, the website revealed a transcript of a conversation between German independent journalist Billy Six and Australian police officers. In this conversation, Six mentions eyewitnesses who observed Ukrainian fighter jets in the sky on the day of MH17 incident.

Commenting on the information, van der Werff said he knew Six in person.

"With Billy Six document, I verified [it] with Billy, so it’s one of the reasons why we are sure the documents are genuine," he said.

Van der Werff refused to provide any information about who leaked the documents.

The third document reveals that Australian experts working on the case were analyzing non primary images/screenshots, which, as it turns out, were altered. For example, in one of the pictures, the date when it was modified is prior to the date when the file was created.

"Even after a year, the Australians did not have original photographs to test, using, like, sort of social media nonsense, cropped pictures. That was shocking for me, too," he said.

The fourth document is a transcript of a conversation between Dutch police officers and an unnamed eyewitness, who says he spotted two Ukrainian air force fighter jets overhead right before the incident. A few minutes later, he heard a loud bang and saw the passenger plane coming down.

The Boeing-777 passenger plane operated by Malaysian Airlines crashed on July 17, 2014, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in the east of the Donetsk Region. As a result, 298 people, citizens of 10 states, were killed in the crash. The parties to the armed conflict in Donbass accused each other of being complicit in the tragedy.

Despite active combat actions, Kiev did not close airspace over Donbass for international passenger flights. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was set up to investigate the tragedy, consisting of representatives from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine.In June 2019, the JIT said it had identified four individuals suspected of being involved in the MH17 crash. They are three Russian nationals Igor Girkin, also known under the nickname of Strelkov, Sergei Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and a Ukrainian national, Leonid Kharchenko. The trial is scheduled to begin in the Netherlands on March 9. Russia’s authorities have repeatedly voiced doubt over the JIT’s findings, pointing to the lack of evidence and its reluctance to take into account Moscow’s conclusions made during the investigation.

The staggering allegations of a former officer of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) on the shooting down of MH17.

Over five years ago, on 17 July 2014, flight MH17 took off from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, bound for Kuala Lumpur, but a few hours into the flight, radio contact was lost and the plane disappeared from radar. There were 283 passengers, including 80 children, and 15 crew members on board.

Watch video on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=243&v=gVMbCTWRcSs&feature=emb_logo

Fast forward to March 2019 when Vasily Prozorov, a former officer of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), makes a number of staggering allegations.

After extensive research, which includes previously unknown details of the shooting down of MH17,  he has compiled his evidence and presented it in the video below. He also exposes the inconsistencies in the official investigation.

Prozorov’s film is based on original documents from the Ukrainian special services and exclusive interviews with the eyewitnesses.

In an email he said, “It is my version of the aircrash and it is very important to know what ordinary people think about this tragedy and this film.”

Watch the video and make your own conclusions. Perhaps, you have more queries of your own.

The apparent suicide of a Ukrainian air force pilot. The mysterious disappearance of an airport dispatcher who had followed the flight of MH17. Both of them have important information. One is dead. The other is missing. Why? This generates more questions.

Identifying the missile is easy. It was a Russian-made BUK missile, but trying to identify (the man) who fired the missile, and on whose orders, has not been possible.

Many questions that have yet to be answered. It is curious, that suspicions immediately fell on the Russians, so why were their findings rejected?

Let us imagine that a man has been stabbed and the knife that is sticking out of him, appears to have come from my kitchen.

The knife may be mine, but does that mean that I stabbed him?

Watch the video and see what you think…

Here is an investigation timeline summary as reported by the BBC

October 2015: A 15 month investigation by the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) found that the Boeing 777 was still flying over eastern Ukraine, around 30 miles from the Russia-Ukraine border, when it was hit by a Russian-made BUK missile.

September 2016: An international team of criminal investigators claimed that the missile had been brought in from Russian territory and fired from a field controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

May 2018: A Dutch-led joint investigation team (JIT) said that the missile system belonged to a Russian brigade. Both Australia and the Netherlands said that they held Russia responsible for shooting down MH17.

June 2019: The JIT said that international arrest warrants had been issued for four men, whom they claimed had brought the missile into the area in eastern Ukraine.

(Rebuilding Malaysia: So who ordered the missile to be fired? Who is responsible?)

(NB: The video is not mine. It is Prozorov’s.)

By Mariam Mokhtar

Iran FM, Canadian PM Meet in Munich

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has met with Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, in the German city of Munich.

The meeting was held on Friday on the sidelines of the annual Munich Security Conference.

Following the meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau, Zarif also met his Canadian counterpart François-Philippe Champagne.

The talks between Iran and Canada come a few weeks after the accidental downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane in Tehran, which killed all the 176 on board, including dozens of Iranian-Canadian citizens.

Following the tragic incident, Ottawa has been in touch with Tehran despite the Canadian government’s decision to sever ties with Iran in 2012.

Canada and Iran have had no formal diplomatic relations since then. Canadian consular and passport services are provided through other Canadian diplomatic missions in other countries in the Middle East while Iran maintains an interests section at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, D.C.

The government headed by PM Trudeau which took office in 2015, has reportedly been reviewing relations with Iran and, like most countries, lifted most of its economic sanctions following the Iran nuclear agreement in July 2015. But Donald Trump’s re-imposition of Iran sanctions in 2018 has once again reduced the chances for a thaw in relations.

The Netherlands refuses Moscow’s request to prosecute MH17 suspects

The Dutch justice minister, Ferd Grapperhaus, said the Netherlands refused a request by Moscow to consider allowing Russia to prosecute three Russian nationals identified as suspects in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

MH17 was shot down in eastern Ukraine, resulting in the death of 298 civilians, two-thirds of whom were Dutch.

The first court hearing in the Dutch case against the three Russian suspects and one Ukrainian is scheduled for 9 March. If the suspects do not show up, the trial will continue without them.

“The justice minister answered that the transfer of prosecution of the three Russian suspects was not an option for the Dutch authorities and will not be considered”, Grapperhaus said in a letter to parliament about the progress of the case.

Russia, who denies the accusations, does not extradite its own citizens, meaning the Russian suspects are not expected to appear in a Dutch court. However, a Dutch law company has said that one of the Russian suspects in the case has asked it to represent him.

Malaysian Ministry denies new MH370 search attempt

The Malaysian Ministry of Transport has denied agreeing to a new search mission for the missing wreckage of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370. There have been two official search missions to find the airplane, missing since 2014. The latest effort, carried out by a private company, ended in 2018.

The Malaysian Ministry of Transport states has not made any decision to relaunch a new search mission for the wreckage of Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777. In a written statement, dated February 10, 2020, the authority refuted claims allegedly made by news report that states otherwise.

“While the Ministry of Transport deeply empathizes with the family members of the victims and stands by them, the Ministry has not made any decision to relaunch any new searches as there has not been any new credible evidence to initiate such a process,” the statement reads.

The Malaysian authority also states it would review any new evidence if it officially received it. However, the decision to re-launch the search for MH370 would require consultation with China and Australia.

Husband of Iran plane crash victim seeks answers, justice from investigation

The husband of one of the victims who died when a Ukrainian jetliner was shot down by the Iranian military last month wants the people he says ordered his wife’s death to be charged and tried at the International Criminal Court.

Hassan Shadkhoo has been barely able to sleep since his wife, Sheyda, was killed along with 175 others when her plane crashed minutes after take off from Tehran on Jan. 8. Several days later, Iran admitted its military mistook the passenger jet for hostile aircraft amid tensions with the United States.

Sheyda Shadkhoo was 41 when she died, returning to Canada after visiting her mother in Iran. She worked as a chemist at a firm in Markham, Ont., that tests products to ensure they meet government standards.

Hassan Shadkhoo spent two weeks in Iran after the crash, where he buried his wife next to her father at her family’s request. He was already at the airport in Istanbul on when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada had intelligence the plane was brought down by a missile.

Shadkhoo began sobbing as he heard and immediately said it was not an accident, something he still believes today.

He said he had no nerves flying in and out of the same airport because dying was not one of his concerns.

“At this point I have nothing to lose,” he said in an interview with The Canadian Press, shortly after he returned to Canada.

He does have a lot of questions and a lot of anger.

He said he wants it made clear he is speaking out on his own behalf, not “for my beloved Sheyda” or her family, who live in Iran.

Shadkhoo said the Iranian regime is criminal, but he says he puts the full blame for what happened on the United States. He also doesn’t believe anyone in the Iranian military accidentally mistook a civilian plane for anything else.

Shadkhoo said the Canadian government and the Italian embassy in Tehran were very helpful and supportive while he was in Iran. Canada hasn’t had a diplomatic presence in Iran since 2012, and the Italians help Canada provide consular assistance to Canadians there when needed.

But now he wants Trudeau to condemn the crash as an act of terrorism and vow to prosecute those responsible at the International Criminal Court.

“Will the prime minister of Canada vow to do this no matter who the perpetrators are,” he said.

The plane was shot down hours after Iran fired missiles at an Iraqi military base hosting American soldiers, in retaliation for the U.S. decision to kill top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3.

Shadkhoo says he wants a thorough investigation into the possibility the plane was targeted deliberately.

The Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 was en route from Tehran to Kyiv, with 57 Canadian citizens on board, along with 82 Iranians, 11 Ukrainians and others from the United Kingdom, Sweden and Afghanistan. In all 138 of the passengers were to eventually headed to Toronto, many of them students and professors returning following the school break.

Canada has been invited by Iran to participate to some extent in the investigation which thus far is moving very slowly.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau expressed frustration Tuesday that Iran still has not released the black boxes for analysis. The flight data and cockpit voice recorders were damaged in the explosion and Iran doesn’t have the technology needed to get at the valuable data. France does and has offered to help but Iran hasn’t yet done anything about that.

The investigation hit a snag this week when a recording between a pilot and the air traffic control tower at the Tehran airport was leaked to Ukrainian media. The recording clearly has a pilot of another plane that was about to land reporting seeing a missile explosion nearby.

As a result of the leaked information, Iran ended co-operation with Ukraine on the investigation.

Mia Rabson

Malaysia Airlines: A history of ups and downs

Malaysia Airlines Berhad, colloquially known as Malaysia Airlines, is Malaysia’s flag carrier. The airline has been struggling for the past few years following several incidents involving one missing flight (MH370) and another being shot down over eastern Ukraine (MH17). Now, Malaysia Airlines - wholly owned by Khazanah Nasional Berhad, a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund company – is considering selling its shares in a bid to recover from unprofitability.

On 20 January 2020, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad confirmed that Malaysia Airlines had received five proposals. Sources say that the proposals were submitted by AirAsia, Malindo Air, Lion Air, Air France-KLM alliance and Japan Airlines. As the discussion for the proposal is confidential, the details were not revealed to the public.

The question now is whether this bid is a good move? Tracing back Malaysia Airlines’ history and past struggles might answer this question.  

Malaysia Airlines was founded in Singapore on 12 October, 1937 as Malayan Airways Limited. The first commercial flight was only boarded in 1947, some 10 years later. When the Federation of Malaysia was established in 1963, the airline’s name changed to Malaysian Airways. Then, following Singapore’s separation from Malaysia in 1965, the airline’s name was changed again to Malaysia-Singapore Airlines before the airline ceased operations after six years in 1972 when both, Malaysia and Singapore decided to establish their own flag carriers – Malaysian Airline System (MAS) and Singapore Airlines.

During the 1980s, the economic boom in Malaysia helped MAS grow, and by the end of the decade MAS became the first airline in Southeast Asia to serve intercontinental flights to South America.

However, during the Asian Financial Crisis, just like other companies in Asia, MAS suffered losses against its financial year for about five years. One of the damage control efforts was to discontinue unprofitable routes out of Malaysia. In 2003, MAS recovered from its losses and achieved some profit before 2005 where it suffered another period of unprofitability due to rising fuel prices, escalated handling and landing fees, and other factors.

Idris Jala was appointed as the new CEO of MAS and launched its Business Turnaround Plan in 2006. MAS posted a record profit in 2007 ending a series of losses since 2005. Route rationalising was one of the major contributors other than improving MAS’ operation system.

In 2011, MAS recorded a net loss of RM2.52 billion (US$613 million) - the largest ever recorded in the company’s history - due to rising fuel costs. Idris Jala departed from MAS in 2009 to accept a position in the country’s Cabinet. The new CEO, Tengku Azmil Zahruddin took over the reins thereafter before newly-appointed CEO, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, was appointed in 2011. Again, the first initiative was to discontinue the unprofitable routes. MAS then recorded profits in 2013 and became a member of the Oneworld Alliance, a leading global airline alliance.

In 2014, MAS struggled to compete with AirAsia, the now-famous Malaysian low-cost carrier. Then, the mysterious flight disappearance of MH370 in March 2014 added to its financial struggles. People started developing doubts about flying with the country’s flag carrier. 

The search for the missing plane has become one of the costliest endeavours in aviation history, centred around the South China and Andaman seas initially before shifting to the Indian Ocean. As a result, MAS’ stock went down as much as 20 percent following the disappearance of MH370 and fell 80 percent over the previous five years. 

Three months after the tragic MH370 incident, another Malaysia Airlines flight, MH17, was shot down while flying over Eastern Ukraine. The incident has become widely publicised because of the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine between Russia and the Ukraine. These two incidents have greatly contributed to MAS’ financial year losses.

On the proposed recovery plan, Khazanah Nasional Berhad - then the majority shareholder of MAS - announced that it would buy the shares of minority shareholders. MAS will compensate shareholders with premium closing price shares as part of Khazanah’s plan to restructure and rebrand MAS.

On 29 August 2014, Khazanah issued a report on the recovery plan that included cutting off 6,000 staff and focusing on regional destinations rather than long-haul routes. In 2015, MAS rebranded its name to Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) and appointed a new CEO, Christoph Mueller. 

In less than a year, Christoph resigned from the post, citing changing personal circumstances as the reason. It was announced in 2016 that the new CEO, Peter Bellew would take over. He too decided to resign a year later. Currently, Captain Izham Ismail, a former Malaysia Airlines pilot is the new CEO of MAB. 

Following the numerous CEO changes and to recover profitability – Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the parent company of MAB spearheaded by the government of Malaysia – has come up with an idea to offer the company’s shares to airline companies who can propose a strategic plan en route to profitability.

With little details available to the public, several major newspapers in Malaysia have speculated that the Malaysian government and Khazanah are leaning towards selecting the AirAsia Group for this plan. The AirAsia Group has proposed to take over the shares offered by Khazanah and for AirAsia X Berhad to merge with Malaysia Airlines, potentially making the merged company a Malaysian/ASEAN champion competitor. 

Proposals have been submitted by foreign carriers as well. The Air France-KLM alliance has proposed to take a 49 percent stake while Japan Airlines wants a 25 percent stake in Khazanah. This is not a surprise as the relationship between Malaysia and Japan has been improving following the samurai bond issuance by Japan in 2019. Things may not be so smooth with an Air France-KLM alliance though, as both parties belong to different airline alliances: Oneworld for Malaysia Airlines and Skyteam for Air France-KLM.

The bids are still being reviewed and Malaysia needs to carefully consider the proposals made. As Malaysia Airlines is the flag carrier of Malaysia and a national symbol, the decision made by Malaysia will be crucial in deciding the future of the aviation industry in the country.

Wahab Jumrah

Families of MH17 victims prepare to go to Europe for trial

Before retired Wollongong teachers Carol and Michael Clancy departed on their first holiday in Europe in 2014, they left their trip schedule with family to let them know where they would be.

The last entry of their schedule read: "Home sweet home."

They never made it home. They were among 298 passengers and crew killed when Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

More than five years later, family of the couple are preparing to travel to Amsterdam to sit in a court's public gallery next month to watch the start of the criminal trial.

Lisa and Brian Clancy, from the NSW town of Singleton, will attend the opening days of the trial, which begins on March 9, because they want to see justice carried out and feel they owe it to their loved ones to be there. "Our lives have stood still since 2014. It has damaged thousands of families; just destroyed their lives," Mrs Clancy said.

They are travelling to Europe "under no illusion" that any of the accused will front court.

For the Singleton couple and other family, the passage of time has not made coming to terms with loss any easier. In fact, Mrs Clancy said she felt angrier about the injustice of the act, which claimed the lives of 38 Australian citizens and residents.

Jon and Meryn O'Brien, who lost their son Jack, aged 25, on MH17 also intend to attend the opening of the hearing with their daughter Bronwyn.

"We don't know what will happen in the first few days. There is a lot of uncertainty. We don't know what challenges will be put up.

"The prosecuting team have said they are expecting it [the trial] to take one and a half to two years but if there are challenges it could run for four to six years."

District Court of The Hague: One of suspects ready to stand trial on MH17 case

At least one of the suspects in the MH17 downing probe is ready to stand trial. The relevant information has been reported by the District Court of The Hague

However, the court did not disclose the name of the suspect.

At the same time, according to de Rechtspraak, the website that is managed under the responsibility of the District Court of The Hague in the Netherlands and aims to inform the public about the MH17 trial, a law firm has recently been reported for the defendant, but the court "will not release the name of the firm and does not specify for which suspect(s)."

ECHR refuses to consider complaint of MH17 ex-witness Tsemakh

The European Court of Human Rights has rejected the complaint of Volodymyr Tsemakh, the ex-witness in MH17 case, and refused in the ban of his extradition to the Netherlands.

“We are disappointed with the ECHR decision to reject our request for the approval of interim measure, which would allow to ban the extradition of Tsemakh to the Netherlands,” his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said.

Besides, he added that despite such a decision of the Strasbourg court, he will continue to look for other ways to prevent the extradition.

“The statement of the ECHR that the replies to all requests were filed to my address is weird. I did not get anything from the ECHR; it is unknown where they filed them,” the lawyer reported.

Two injured after Iran passenger plane lands on runway

An aging Iranian passenger airliner carrying 144 people crash-landed on a runway and skidded onto a major highway next to an airport Monday, the latest crash in the Islamic Republic as U.S. sanctions bar it from parts or new aircraft.

Authorities said two people suffered injuries in the hard landing of the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 flown by Caspian Airlines in Mahshahr, a city in Iran’s oil-rich southwestern Khuzestan province.

Passengers, apparently in shock, calmly exited the aircraft with their carry-on baggage out of a door near the cockpit and another over the plane’s wing, video from Iran’s Civil Aviation Network News showed. A flight attendant shouted at passengers to calmly walk away as another crew member joined her on the wing.

Provincial airport director Mohammad Reza Rezanian said all of the passengers had been safely taken off the plane, which had been flying a route from the Iranian capital, Tehran, some 610 kilometers (380 miles) northeast of Mahshahr. The plane carried 136 passengers and eight crew members, authorities said.

It seems that tragedy was narrowly avoided, however, as images from the scene showed the plane had ground to a halt not far from a populated area. The plane also missed traffic on a major highway linking Mahshahr to Imam Khomeini Port.

Iranian state television said the plane involved in Monday’s crash-landing came in harder than usual and lost its landing gear as it hit the tarmac.

Basketball legend Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash

US basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in the city of Calabasas, California.

Bryant, 41, and Gianna, 13, were travelling in a private helicopter when it came down and burst into flames. The LA county sheriff said there were no survivors.

Bryant, a five-time NBA champion, played for the LA Lakers throughout his career and is considered one of the greatest players in the game's history. The National Basketball Association issued a statement saying it was "devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna".

What do we know about the crash?

Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the helicopter's manifest indicated that nine people were on board when it crashed, raising the number from five in earlier statements by officials.

Coroners have not officially named the victims. But family members and colleagues said John Altobelli, coach of the Orange Coast College basketball team, was among the passengers, along with his wife Keri and their 13-year-old daughter Alyssa - who played with Bryant's daughter, Gianna. Christina Mauser, a basketball coach at Gianna's school, was also on board, her husband wrote on Facebook.

The helicopter was operating under "special visual flight rules," according to an air traffic control conversation with the pilot, captured by website LiveATC.net.

An SVFR clearance allows a pilot to fly in weather conditions worse than those allowed for standard visual flight rules (VFR).

The Burbank Airport control tower allowed the helicopter to proceed northeast, following the Interstate 5 highway, using the SVFR clearance.

"Maintain special VFR at or below 2,500" the pilot confirmed to the controller.

Later in the flight, the pilot apparently asked for "flight following," a service in which controllers are in regular contract with an aircraft.

The controller was recorded telling the pilot "2 echo X-ray, you're still too low level for flight following at this time." That could mean the helicopter was too low to be seen on air traffic control radar.

While authorities try to determine what went wrong, investigators are struggling to find clues in difficult conditions.

Tree American firefighters killed in Australia plane crash identified

The three Americans who died fighting an Australian bushfire from the air have been identified by their employer, Oregon-based Coulson Aviation.

The three are 44-year-old Capt. Ian McBeth of Great Falls, Montana, who was piloting the downed C-130 plane; First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson, age 42, of Buckeye, Arizona; and 43-year-old Flight Engineer Rick DeMorgan Jr., who lived in Navarre, Florida, Coulson.

"The aviation industry and emergency service sector is a small community both in Australia and around the world," Coulson said. "This will be deeply felt by all."All three men were veterans of the US military, Coulson said. The cause of the crash is not yet known.

A government official in Australia said the water tanker plane had been chartered by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service. The crew had been on a firebombing mission in the state of New South Wales, where fires are still burning out of control, when the accident occurred, Coulson said earlier. According to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, contact was lost with the C-130 water-bombing plane shortly before 1:30 p.m. local time on Thursday.

Fires have been burning in New South Wales for months, and the US and other countries have been lending firefighting assistance and personnel. The US said Wednesday it's sending two more 20-person crews, only days after sending air support personnel and other emergency management teams. The US has deployed more than 200 fire staff to Australia so far, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Opinion: Why Governments Must Decide When Not To Fly

by Mark Zee

Until Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 was shot down just before dawn in Tehran on Jan. 8, the tempting narrative was that the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014 was a black swan event.

Iran’s acknowledgment that it shot down PS752 removes that doubt and painfully validates our 5.5 years of work on airspace risk awareness, but it also makes clear that this work was not enough to prevent a repeat tragedy. It is now evident that governments must play a more active role in preventing airlines from flying in conflict zones.

The work the aviation industry has done post-MH17 has not been for nothing. Far from it. Cooperation and collaboration around risk among airlines and among government departments, which was largely frowned upon before MH17, has become acceptable.

Risk awareness is higher than ever before. Information-sharing has moved from small, closed circles to large, open groups.

But underlying that work was an uncertainty around the need for it all. The reason: Risk is nebulous.

A decision to avoid risk averts a situation that might occur. Despite the usual scales of low, medium, and high, the true likelihood is always low. There is no data to provide answers afterward: What did not happen cannot be measured. Airline security managers are therefore under tremendous pressure. Money spent on risk avoidance has no clear billing code. But the temptation to err on the side of saving costs is ever present.

Herein lies the impasse. The ultimate final decision in approach to risk lies with the airline or aircraft operator, which is in most cases a business. Passengers and pilots have an undeniable first priority to stay alive.

A business has the same priority, of course. Every decision in a business will ultimately be a commercial decision to ensure it stays alive. This explains why airlines continued to fly to Tehran even when it was abundantly clear this was a shootdown event.

A lesson from the last five years of our work is that like businesses under pressure to fly through conflict zones, countries cannot be relied upon to close risky airspace or issue damaging guidance about their own territories. Iran is not alone in this. A string of other nations have made similar decisions: Cyprus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Turkey.  Only on one occasion—Pakistan, in 2019—has a national authority closed its airspace for reasons of conflict-zone risk. Governments have more pressing motivations in trade, tourism and commerce. This will not change.

And yet government involvement is what is needed to solve things. The civil aviation industry has done what is within its power—there are no new initiatives that can take us further.

The position that aircraft operators are solely responsible for making risk decisions favors the handful of large airlines that have the resources to continually assess risk. The overwhelming majority cannot. For thousands of operators, relying on internal or external support to make qualified, informed essential risk decisions is simply not practical. The operational staffing of even a medium-size airline is small, especially at night, when most rapid-onset risk situations occur.

Right now, only a handful of countries are active in prohibiting their carriers from risky areas. But it works.

On the night in question, the U.S. had issued a notice to airmen that prevented its pilots and carriers from operating in Iran, several hours before the shootdown. If there were going to be an incident, it would not involve a U.S. aircraft.

When the U.S. prevents its carriers from flying through a conflict zone, many airlines follow—especially when backed up by Germany, France or the UK. But no system, organization or clear channel exists for that information to be passed to all concerned. This must change.

Each state has a duty to care for its citizens. Most governments have the resources to assess risk. This duty of care needs to be extended to pilots and passengers aboard aircraft.

In the first weeks of 2020, international travel advice about Iraq and Iran from the foreign affairs departments of many countries was clear: Do not travel. That same advice needs to extend to aircraft operators: Do not fly. 

Mark Zee is the founder of Opsgroup, an organization of 7,000 members working in international flight operations that share information to improve awareness of risk, operational procedures and changes after MH17 exposed the lack of collaboration in the industry. He also manages Safe Airspace: The Conflict Zone & Risk Database.

Maria Zakharova: Dutch foreign minister’s speculations over plane crash in Iran impermissible

Russian news agency Tass published a statement of Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova about the MH17 case. She said, that Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok’s attempts at drawing parallels between the MH17 disaster over Donbass in 2014 and the loss of Ukraine’s passenger liner near Tehran on January 8 this year for advancing biased accusations against Russia are devoid of sound logic and therefore impermissible.

"We believe that the chief Dutch diplomat inappropriately used the tragedy in Iran, which has its own causes and special features, for another series of attacks against Russia and for advertising The Hague’s own hackneyed, subjective approaches to the MH17 flight disaster. Now, in connection with the loss of flight PS 752 Blok has demanded that Russia should present what he described as satisfactory answers to a number of questions Joint Investigation Team questions. Without feeling even a little bit shy over the absence of proven facts Blok has come out with some personal feelings Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov feels somewhat uneasy whenever the MH17 issue is raised and that Russians should better recognize their guilt and agree to pay compensations to the relatives of those who died in the disaster, thus easing tensions," she said.

"Speculations over the Iranian tragedy aimed at propping up biased charges against Russia, is first and foremost impermissible and mean in relation to the victims’ relatives and dear ones," Zakharova said. "Blok’s ultimatum-like demands Russia should plead guilty to the loss of the Malaysian plane over Ukraine for the sole reason a Ukrainian plane has been shot down in Iran are inappropriate, unacceptable and devoid of any sound logic."

Zakharova recalled that Russia had provided sufficient evidence in the MH17 case testifying that all charges against it were absolutely groundless.

"Once again Blok overlooked Ukraine’s obvious complicity in the disaster, although it was Kiev that had failed to close the airspace over the zone of hostilities in defiance of the Dutch parliament’s concerns, expressed in this connection."

Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 777 (Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur) was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. The disaster claimed the lives of all 298 passengers and crew on board. Austria, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine formed a Joint Investigation Team (JIT). Russian officials have repeatedly expressed distrust towards its activities and pointed to groundless charges and the reluctance to use the conclusions of the Russian side in the investigation.

A Boeing-737 of Ukraine International Airlines crashed on January 8 minutes after leaving Tehran airport. None of the 176 passengers and crew on board survived. Later, Iran recognized that its air defenses had downed the plane by mistake.

Lessons have not been learned...

Europe’s pilots are shocked and deeply saddened by the downing of Ukrainian Airlines flight PS752 in Iran and the killing of all 176 people on board.

This comes only a few years after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), in 2014. It is tragic proof that some lessons from MH17 on flying into or over conflict zones have not been learnt. Europe has no effective system in place to reduce those risks. The airspace over Ukraine and Iran should have been closed.

Having seen major airlines continue flying to Tehran in the days after the shooting down – despite the security threat – European pilots call for urgent and pragmatic solutions.

“It is clear that we cannot rely on conflict-stressed states to restrict or close their own airspace. We must in principle rely on our national authorities and our airlines to make sure that the lives of passengers and crew are adequately protected and this unchecked risk is addressed,” says ECA Secretary General Philip von Schöppenthau.

”However, purely national, uncoordinated action has not done the job in the past and won’t do it in the future,” he continues. “Individual Member States clearly do not share their security intelligence about conflict zones sufficiently to provide protection. As long as this is the case, and nothing substantive occurs through a dedicated European structure, we will see further flights taking unnecessary risks.”

“What we urgently need is a method of sharing and acting, not upon closely guarded intelligence, but upon the outcome of risk analysis about conflict zones. With these outcomes from different European airlines and states swiftly shared amongst each other and authorities, no European airline or pilot should be left in the dark – all have the opportunity to benefit from the effect of the privileged information of the best informed”, says ECA President Jon Horne. “Whilst many believe there should be an EU or international authority to take responsibility for the closure of hostile airspace, it is not something that shows any sign of happening soon, and so we need a pragmatic, industry-based setup that can provide meaningful protection in the here and now.”

Such a setup might not be perfect, but a stopgap solution is necessary and it was necessary five years ago when the MH17 was shot down over Ukraine as local authorities did not want to close the airspace. It could be an industry held database of current risk assessment outcomes and default procedures for any new armed conflict. It could even be a simple rule of “TWO OUT – ALL OUT”: If at least two Member States and/or two major airlines decide to not fly into a specific block of conflict-affected airspace, this decision would be taken up by all other (EU) states and airlines until the situation is clarified. This means that passengers and crew on all airlines would benefit from the secret and non-sharable intelligence available to some ‘privileged’ authorities and airlines, and by looking only at public outcomes of their risk assessments.

“These ideas are neither conventional, ideal, nor the only solutions,” says ECA Secretary General Philip von Schöppenthau. “But the international failure to effectively cope with flying over and into conflict zones keeps costing lives.”

Five proposals received for ailing Malaysia Airlines: Mahathir

Malaysia has received five proposals for its debt-laden national carrier Malaysia Airlines, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed said at a group media briefing on Monday (Jan 20).

“There are about 5 proposals but of course some of them are just no go,” Dr Mahathir said, without giving more details.

“We need to listen to everybody to find out what is the best solution.”

The Malaysian government has been seeking a strategic partner for the financially struggling airline, which is still recovering from two tragedies in 2014, when flight MH370 disappeared in what remains a mystery and flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine.

Taken private by sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional in 2014, the national carrier has been struggling to post a profit.

Evening Bird: A poem dedicated to the lives lost on flight PS752

Dearly to the sun, your serpentine fins embraced bluffs, tripped the morosely linking earth & the heavens with howling wings.

You became lines of sun-split stanzas & warped seas underneath you. You hoot ecstatic stunts, ‘everyone deserved a sunbath.’                                                                                                

You didn’t have enough sleep, you ne’er dreamt. You imitated a night-disciple;

zombied your hands over your shoulders, and blurred God in the face.

Unbelievers chose the head, the tail, I chose none but you burned blue through your gasps in awe & palpitate as volatile balloons; from the lip of a knitting needle. You gasped fireworks, heaven echoed fossil fuels.

Against the hard clicks of a gong & strikes of human-skinned drums, the spotlight was moved to us in thick tears, & our tight gullets as a tourniquet.

We were displaced, cruised amid police gossamers           ‘police lines, do not cross.

Our feet swept metallic feathers, our hands with a kettle douche in a pool of grief; one flopped a portrait & the other lantern. The debris clasped our locust jeans to melting plastics & iron shafts.  

Evening bird, as you watched tears rain from our eyes & haven’t yet proved enough theory on risk society, please; Fall! Fall!! Fall alone!!! like a thunderbolt faraway from our smiles.

Bayowa Ayomide

The victims of Ukraine Flight PS752

A Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 crashed shortly after take-off in Iran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board.

In total, 82 Iranians and 63 Canadians were on board the Kyiv-bound Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) Flight PS752, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said.

There were also 11 victims - including nine crew members - from Ukraine, four Afghans, four Britons and three Germans.

Iran's head of emergency operations said 147 of the victims were Iranian, which suggests many of the foreign nationals held dual nationality.

A list of passengers was released by the airline, but the BBC is awaiting confirmation from people known to the victims.

Canada 'shocked and saddened'

The majority of the passengers on the flight were headed for Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed. Out of the 176 victims, 138 had listed Canada as their final destination.

Of them, 57 of them carried a Canadian passport, but many others were foreign students, permanent residents or visitors.

Initially, the number of Canadian victims was given as 63.

A number of the passengers on board the plane were reportedly students and university staff from Canada returning at the end of the holidays.

The tragedy was a national one, touching many communities across the country.

British Columbia

Ardalan Ebnoddin Hamidi, Niloofar Razzaghi and their teenage son Kamyar, a family of three from Vancouver were returning from Iran where they had taken a short vacation and were confirmed to have been on the flight.

The University of British Columbia said it is mourning the loss of Mehran Abtahi, a postdoctoral research fellow, and sibling alumnus Zeynab Asadi Lari and Mohammad Asadi Lari.

"She was full of dreams, and now they're gone," Elnaz Morshedi told the BBC of her friend Zeynab Asadi Lari, who was studying health sciences.

Her brother Mohammmad was the co-founder of STEM fellowship, a youth-run charity that helps students in maths and sciences.

Other victims from the west coast province include Delaram Dadashnejad, an international student studying nutrition at a college in Vancouver, and couple Naser Pourshaban Oshibi and Firouzeh Madani.

Alberta

The University of Alberta confirmed that 10 members of the institution's community were killed in the tragedy.

Pedram Mousavi and Mojgan Daneshmand, a married couple who taught engineering at the University of Alberta, were killed in the crash, along with their two daughters, Daria, 14, and Dorina, 9.

Arash Pourzarabi, 26,and Pouneh Gourji, 25, were graduate students in computer science at the university, and had gone to Iran for their wedding.

Other students who died included Elnaz Nabiyi, Nasim Rahmanifar, and Amir Saeedinia, as well as alumnus Mohammad Mahdi Elyasi, who studied mechanical engineering and graduated in 2017.

Obstetrician Shekoufeh Choupannejad, her daughter Saba Saadat, who was studying medicine at the university, and Sara, who had recently graduated, were also among those on the flight

The "community is reeling from this loss," said university president David Turpin on Thursday.

Also from the province of Alberta was Kasra Saati, an aircraft mechanic formerly with Viking Air, the CBC confirmed.

Manitoba

Victims from Winnipeg included Forough Khadem, described "as a promising scientist and a dear friend," by her colleague E Eftekharpour.

Graduate student Amirhossein Ghassemi was studying biomedical engineering.

"I can't use past tense. I think he's coming back. We play again. We talk again. It's too difficult to use past tense, too difficult. No one can believe it," his friend Amir Shirzadi told CTV News.

Amirhossein Bahabadi Ghorbani, 21, was studying science at the University of Manitoba and hoped to become a doctor, his roommate told the CBC.

CBC also confirmed that a family of three from that city - Mohammad Mahdi Sadeghi, his wife, Bahareh Hajesfandiari, and their daughter, Anisa Sadeghi, were travelling together on the flight.

Farzaneh Naderi, a customer service manager at Walmart, and her 11-year-old son Noojan Sadr were also killed.

Ontario

Many of the victims were returning to their homes in Toronto and other nearby cities in the province of Ontario.

They included Ghanimat Azhdari - a PhD student at the University of Guelph, Ontario. She specialised in promoting the rights of indigenous groups and her research group described her as "cherished and loved".

Toronto resident Alina Tarbhai was also among the victims, her employer, the Ontario Secondary School Teacher's Federation (OSSTF), told the BBC. Her mother Afifa Tarbhai was also on board.

The University of Windsor, Ontario, confirmed five people from their school had died on the plane. PhD student Hamid Kokab Setareh and his wife Samira Bashiri, who was also a researcher at the school, were among those killed.

Omid Arsalani told CBC that his sister Evin Arsalani, 30, had travelled to Iran to attend a wedding with her husband, Hiva Molani, 38, and their one-year-old daughter Kurdia. All three were killed in the crash.

The University of Toronto confirmed the loss of students Mojtaba Abbasnezhad, Mohammad Amin Beiruti, and Mohammad Amin Jebelli, and Mohammad Salehe.

Seyed Hossein Mortazavi, a childhood friend of Mohammad Salehe, said he was a bit reserved and shy but a brilliant computer programmer whose talent was widely recognised.

McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario confirmed the loss of PhD students Iman Aghabali and Mehdi Eshaghian, as well as of former postdoctoral researcher Siavash Maghsoudlou Estarabadi.

The CBC confirmed that Mahdieh Ghassemi and her two children Arsan Niazi and Arnica Niazi, were on the flight.

Tirgan, an Iranian cultural charity, said "it is with a heavy heart that we bid farewell" to some volunteers with their organisation, including couple Parinaz and Iman Ghaderpanah.

The organisation said it was joining in mourning with another volunteer, Hamed Esmaeilion, who lost his wife Parisa Eghbalian, and their daughter Reera Esmaeilion.

Western University said it was mourning four international students: Ghazal Nourian, Milad Nahavandi, Hadis Hayatdavoudi, Sajedeh Saraeian.

The University of Waterloo shared the news "with heavy hearts" that their community had lost two PhD students Marzieh (Mari) Foroutan and Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani.

Quebec

Engineer Siavash Ghafouri-Azar was returning home with his new wife, Sara Mamani, when the plane crashed. The couple had just bought their first home near the Canadian city of Montreal.

His uncle, Reza Ghafouri-Azar, told the BBC "I cannot come up with words for my kind, dedicated nephew."

"He has been a very positive and passionate from childhood until his soul's departure from his body. Rest in peace my dearest side by your beloved wife," he said.

Mr Ghafouri-Azar is a professor of engineering in Toronto, and he introduced his nephew to Ali Dolatabadi, an engineering professor at Concordia University who would become Siavash's thesis supervisor.

"It is a great loss," Mr Dolatabadi told the BBC. "He was very intelligent, a gentleman. He had a kind and a gentle soul." He said his wife Sarah Mamani was "very kind, very polite". The couple were looking forward to throwing a housewarming party in the New Year.

Armin Morattab was worried when his twin Arvin Morattab, called him from the airport in Tehran, amid reports that Iran had fired missiles at US targets in Iraq.

"He said he was coming back home soon," Mr Morattab told the Montreal Gazette.

Arvin Morattab and his wife Aida Farzaneh were both killed.

The Gazette also confirmed that Mohammad Moeini, from Quebec, was also killed.

Nova Scotia

Global News confirmed that five of the victims have ties to Nova Scotia, a province on Canada's east coast.

Dalhousie University student Masoumeh Ghavi, her sister, Mandieh Ghavi, were both killed, as was local dentist Dr. Sharieh Faghihi, and two graduate students at St Mary's University, Maryam Malek and Fatemeh Mahmoodi.

Ali Nafarieh, a professor at Dalhousie and president of the Iranian Cultural Association of Nova Scotia, employed Masoumeh Ghavi part-time at his IT company. He says she was one of the university's "top students".

"I remember she has always a smile on her face. What she brought in our company in addition to skills and knowledge and experience was her energy. She changed the atmosphere over there. We'll miss her a lot," he told CTV News.

Iran victims

We have no information on the 82 Iranian nationals who died.

Tributes to British victims

Four British nationals were among the victims.

Three have been named as Mohammed Reza Kadkhoda Zadeh, who owned a dry cleaners in West Sussex, BP engineer Sam Zokaei from Twickenham, and and PhD student and engineer Saeed Tahmasebi, who lived in Dartford.

Last year, Mr Tahmasebi married his Iranian partner, Niloufar Ebrahim, who was also listed as a passenger on the plane.

Swedish children feared dead

Ten Swedish nationals died in the crash. Many of them are believed to have also had Iranian citizenship.

Swedish media report that several children were among the victims.

Sweden's foreign ministry confirmed that Swedes were among those killed. It provided no further details.

Ukrainian airline crew

Nine of the 11 Ukrainian nationals killed were staff at Ukraine International Airlines (UIA).

Valeriia Ovcharuk, 28, and Mariia Mykytiuk, 24, were among the flight attendants who died.

On their social media accounts, which are now being filled with tributes, they frequently shared photographs from their travels.

Valeria posted just two weeks ago from a hotel in Bangkok with the caption: "Work, I love you."

Ihor Matkov, was flight PS752's chief attendant. The other three flight attendants were named by the airline as Kateryna Statnik, Yuliia Solohub and Denys Lykhno.

Three pilots were on board at the time of the accident: Captain Volodymyr Gaponenko, First Officer Serhii Khomenko and instructor Oleksiy Naumkin.

All three had between 7,600 and 12,000 hours experience flying a 737 aircraft, according to the airline.

A former UIA pilot said he had flown together with each of the three pilots. Writing on Facebook, Yuri, who wanted to be known only by his first name, described them as "great pilots".

Iran plane crash: burning Boeing was trying to turn back, say Tehran investigators

The crew of the Ukrainian plane that crashed, killing all 176 people on board, never made a radio call for help and were trying to turn back to the airport when the plane went down, Iranian investigators have said.

The three-year-old jet, which had its last scheduled maintenance on Monday, encountered a technical problem shortly after take-off, said a report issued on Thursday.

Iran’s civil aviation authority made the comments in a preliminary report a day after the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 crashed.

The investigators said the plane was engulfed in flames before it crashed. They said the crash caused a massive explosion when the plane hit the ground, likely because it had been fully loaded with fuel for the flight to Kyiv, Ukraine.

The report also confirmed that both of the so-called black boxes that contain data and cockpit communications from the plane had been recovered, though they had been damaged and some parts of their memory was lost. Iran’s aviation authority has previously said it will not hand over flight recorders either to the aircraft’s manufacturer or US aviation authorities.

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said crash investigators from his country had arrived in Iran to assist in the probe. He said he planned to call Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, about the crash and the investigation.

The priority for Ukraine was to identify the cause of the plane crash, Zelenskiy said, a sentiment echoed by the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau said: “Our government will continue to work closely with its international partners to ensure that … [the crash] is thoroughly investigated, and that Canadians’ questions are answered.”

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Vadym Prystaiko, said on Wednesday that there were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians on board.

Boeing faces more trouble after crash of a Ukrainian 737 jet in Iran

Another tragic airline crash Wednesday could cause more problems for Boeing.

A three-year old Boeing 737-800 jet operated by Ukraine International Airlines crashed soon after takeoff from Tehran's international airport early Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board.

Iranian aviation authorities have begun an investigation. An early report from Iran's semi-official news agency ISNA blamed some kind of engine failure. But Ukrainian officials say it's too early to determine the cause, and Ukraine's embassy in Iran retracted a statement that also attributed the crash to an engine malfunction.

The 737-800 is not the 737 Max, which has gotten so much attention since two fatal crashes caused the grounding of the jet worldwide in March of 2018. All those planes remain grounded.

But the 800 version of the jet, also known as a 737 Next Generation or NG, has had its own problems. Boeing has delivered about 6,700 of these jets to airlines around the world.

In April 2018, parts of the engine on a Southwest Airlines (LUV) flight hit the side of the plane and shattered a window after a fan blade broke. The cabin depressurized and the woman sitting next to the window was killed.

In November 2019, the US National Transportation Safety Board recommended that Boeing redesign the outer covering of the planes' engines to prevent it from flying into the plane should a fan blade break on a future flight. It said that all Boeing 737 Next Generation series airplanes should be retrofitted with whatever fix Boeing comes up with.

Boeing said in November it is working on a fix for the jet covers.

But the 737 NG has other problems. Cracks have been discovered on structural supports that hold the wings in place, and several dozen have been grounded as a result. But while the FAA has ordered inspections, most of the 737 NGs have continued to fly.

Boeing's (BA) stock was down 1% in premarket trading following the crash, though shares recovered some of their earlier losses.

The company issued a statement Wednesday expressing condolences for the latest crash.

"This is a tragic event and our heartfelt thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families. We are in contact with our airline customer and stand by them in this difficult time. We are ready to assist in any way needed," said Boeing's statement.

The investigation will be made more difficult by where the crash took place, just outside Tehran, in the midst of rising tensions between Iran and the United States.

Iran says it will not hand over the black boxes from the Ukrainian Airlines Boeing 737 to American authorities. Speaking to Iran's semiofficial Mehr news agency, the head of Iran's Civil Aviation Authority, Ali Abedzadeh said that the black boxes would be analyzed in the country where the accident took place, in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization rules. He also said Ukrainian investigators would be a part of the process.

"We will not give the black box to the manufacturer [Boeing] or America," he said.

Tensions between the United States and Iran have escalated after the recent US strike that killed Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani. Iran fired missiles late Tuesday at two Iranian bases in Iraq where American military personnel are located. Initial reports indicated there were no fatalities from that attack, which occurred just hours before the plane crash.

By Chris Isidore

Plane crash fatalities fell more than 50% in 2019

The number of people killed in crashes of large commercial planes fell by more than 50% in 2019, according to an aviation industry study.

Last year 257 fatalities were recorded, compared to 534 in 2018, according to aviation consultancy To70.

That's despite the high-profile Boeing 737 Max crash in Ethiopia in March.

The decrease follows a general trend for the industry that's seen aviation fatalities fall even as air travel has increased sharply.

In 2019 there were 86 accidents involving large commercial planes, including eight fatal incidents, resulting in 257 fatalities, Dutch aviation consultancy To70 said.

The 157 people killed in a crash involving Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March accounted for more than half of those deaths.

There was one fatal accident involving large commercial passenger planes for every 5.58 million flights, according to the report.

Last year was "one of the safest years ever for commercial aviation", according to accident tracking website the Aviation Safety Network.

In 2018, 160 incidents were recorded, including 13 fatal accidents, accounting for some 534 deaths.

The global aviation industry's safest year on record was 2017. There were no fatal passenger jet crashes that year, and only two fatal accidents involving regional turboprops that resulted in 13 deaths.

The study includes passengers, air crew, and anyone killed on the ground in a plane accident.

The types of planes covered by the research are the aircraft used by the vast majority of air passengers around the world.

The study did not include small commuter planes, and some smaller turboprop aircraft.

It also did not cover accidents involving military flights, training flights, private flights, cargo planes, and helicopters.

Air passenger safety was under intense scrutiny in 2019 after two crashes in close succession of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

In October 2018, a Boeing 737 Max operated by Lion Air crashed, killing all 189 people on board.

Five months later an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed, killing 157, after which the entire 737 Max fleet was grounded.

Two killed in single-engine plane crash at airport in central Alabama

Two people have been killed in a plane crash at an airport in central Alabama. 

The incident occurred at Cullman Regional Airport-Folsom Field in Vinemont between 12.30pm and 1pm Sunday, authorities say. 

It involved a Vans RV-6 plane that crashed at the end of a runway during departure. 

The Cullman County Sheriff's Office, Cullman County EMA, and Vinemont Fire Department are assisting in the investigation.  

CRA General Manager Ben Harrison said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have been notified. 

According to FlightAware data, four planes were scheduled to take off and land at the airport on Sunday. All four planes were single-engine and privately owned.  

Cullman is located roughly 50 miles north of Birmingham.  

Prosecutor General’s Office continues working on MH17 case

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO), which is part of the international and national investigation groups to investigate the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight МН17, will continue their work on this criminal proceeding, the PGO’s website has said.

“The prosecutor’s office includes seven prosecutors in the international investigation team and 11 prosecutors in the national investigation team. They will continue to work on this criminal proceeding at the Office of the Prosecutor General. This will ensure a high level of professionalism and preserve institutional memory in the investigation of the deaths of 298 passengers Malaysian Airlines flight MH17,” PGO said.

Surprising events in the MH-17 investigation

Shortly after the beginning of the MH17 trial, senior prosecutor Fred Westerbeke became the head of the Rotterdam police, the head of the Ukrainian MH17 investigators was also dismissed.

Before the MH-17 process begins, everything seems to move. Fred Westerbeke, who headed the JIT investigation as a public prosecutor, also responsible for other investigations in the field of terrorism and organized crime, will become the head of the Rotterdam police force on April 1. The move is a remarkable decision shortly after the start of the process in early March, which is planned until 2021 and is expected to take place under strict security conditions.

According to the media reports, it does not appear to be known who will become Westerbeke's successor. The prosecutor replaces Frank Paauw, who became Amsterdam's chief of police in the spring. So there was a gap to fill, especially since Westerbeke had started his career as a police officer and then as a public prosecutor in Rotterdam. But taking him out of the job at the beginning of the politically high mammoth process suggests at least a change in attitudes. Was one not satisfied with Westerbeke's investigation, was he too fixated on Russia, but what the Dutch government was and is, or is it too lax?

Most recently, despite intervention by the Dutch government, Vladimir Zemak (Tsemakh), who was described as an important witness and ultimately a suspect, was lost due to the prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia. He might have been the only witness / suspect who can be interviewed in court or through a video link. The four other suspects will not appear in court. Zemak, who is accused of participating in a terrorist organization (the "Donetsk People's Republic") and hiding the Buk system, which is on very shaky legs, had been kidnapped to Kiev by the Ukrainian secret service and was supposed to be there against offers, as he claims to testify against Russian suspects.

The new Ukrainian government considered the prisoner exchange more important than the MH17 witness. Now he is back in Donetsk and should not be extradited by Ukraine as a citizen (Dutch parliament calls for an investigation against Ukraine). The Dutch public prosecutor has announced that she sees Zemak as a suspect but does not yet know if she will file suit against him. This leaves the game open, but looks very tactical. Didn't Westerbeke want to play in it? Zemak himself has brought an action against the Netherlands before the ECJ.

There was also a surprising turnaround in Ukraine, if the information is correct, which Larisa Sargan, the former spokeswoman for the Attorney General Yuri Lutsenko, who was deposed by the new President Zelensky, recently shared on her Facebook. After that, the Ukrainian prosecutor, the head of the Ukrainian MH17 investigation team, was released. Apparently Westerbeke immediately went to Kiev and wanted to meet with the Attorney General Ruslan Rjaboshapka, who has been in office since August. But Sargan is said to have had no time for him, only his deputy, a colleague from the Netherlands.

She suspects that the Ukrainian secret service SBU wants to merge the investigation and that Russia could play a role in this. But it does not seem to be well-liked by the new government, so it is not necessary to believe its claims.

Florian Rötzer

Cortland County Sheriff’s Office investigating Christmas Eve plane crash

The Cortland County Sheriff's Office is working with the FAA to investigate a plane crash.

The Sheriff's Office says a call came in at 5:46 PM Tuesday evening at the Cortland County Airport. According to investigators, it was a single engine plane crash and only the pilot was on-board at the time.

Investigators say the pilot had been conducting some practice take off and landings for about an hour. The pilot said he had just completed a landing and was taking off again when he lost control of the plane.

We're told the plane left the runway, struck a snowbank and overturned onto its roof. The pilot was able to make it out of the plane on his own and has taken to a nearby hospital for a cut to the head. He is expected to be okay. Investigators are not naming him at this time.

The plane is a 1966 Cherokee. It appears to be a total loss.

The airport runway was closed for about 3 1/2 hours until the plane could be removed.

Public Prosecution Service speaks with relatives of MH17 victims

The MH17 process starts in March, the Public Prosecution Service has had dozens of conversations with relatives in recent weeks. The aim was to hear from them what influence the MH17 disaster and everything related to it has on their lives - nos.nl

A total of 75 interviews were held with family members of the 196 Dutch victims of flight MH17. That happened at police stations in several cities. A delegation from the Public Prosecution Service, the police and Victim Support were there in Australia at the beginning of this month to speak with fifty relatives of Australian victims.

Such a conversation with a public prosecutor is a legal right for the relatives. Digna van Boetzelaer, deputy chief prosecutor, says: "Some people said it brings up more than they expected. But afterwards they were also very grateful and said: I needed to tell my story, and someone to listen to me. "

Wim van der Graaff - he lost his son Laurens (30) and his girlfriend Karlin - is happy with the conversation he had in Hoofddorp with a public prosecutor: "It was very special, because this is a part of the official indictment of what has happened to us. It is very nice that we were heard so personally. That has been a very good feeling. "

When it comes to the MH17 process, Wim van der Graaff deliberately lowers his expectations. "I have my doubts about whether something will be achieved in the long term. I am prepared for disappointment. "

He is nevertheless happy to contribute. "I will use my right to speak in the process. That is the only way for me to get the feeling that I am doing something about it".

Iran military plane crashes near dormant volcano

An Iranian military fighter jet crashed on Wednesday, December 25, near a dormant volcano in the northwest of the country, official media reported.

State news agency IRNA said the jet went down at 9:00 am (0530 GMT) near Mount Sabalan, in the Lesser Caucasus range, and was a MiG-29 on a test flight after being overhauled.

Amateur video footage published on the social media accounts of various media outlets in Iran appeared to show smoke rising above snow-capped peaks.

A search and rescue operation was launched for the plane and its crew.

"Following the crash of a military plane in Ardabil (province), helicopter and rescue groups have been sent to the region," Iran's Red Crescent said in a statement on its website.

Iran's third-highest peak, Mount Sabalan, features a crater that turns into a lake at certain times of the year.

One person confirmed dead in plane crash northwest of Tofino

One person has died after a small plane crashed in a remote area on the west coast of Vancouver Island Saturday. 

The B.C. Coroners Service confirmed Sunday they were notified of one fatality in the crash and are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death.

The plane was headed to an airpark in Courtenay and was scheduled to land around 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Comox Valley RCMP were told that the plane was late around 4 p.m. and began contacting other Vancouver Island airports hoping to find the missing plane.

Victoria’s Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre began a search for the plane after receiving a call from RCMP around 4:30 p.m.

Search and rescue crews went out Saturday night but weren’t able to locate it, said Maj. Sandy Bourne, the centre’s duty public affairs officer. Crews on the ground found the crash site near Sydney Inlet Provincial Park, northwest of Tofino, on Sunday morning at about 9 a.m. and confirmed it was the missing plane.

The Transportation Safety Board said the plane is a four-seat Cessna 172. The agency is trying to determine whether investigators will be able to reach the crash site, because the remote location makes access difficult. Investigators may have to wait until the plane can be moved to another location.

Russia To Provide Netherlands With Information About MH17 Crash

Russia is ready to provide to the Netherlands information proving that the airspace above Donbas was not closed on the day of the 2014 Malaysian Airlines MH17 crash, Vladimir Chizhov, Russia's permanent representative to the European Union, said on Monday.

"I have not yet seen statements by the Netherlands' foreign minister. I can tell you that Russia was initially ready to provide the joint international team investigating the incident with the information gathered soon after the incident, including the information about the aspect that you have just mentioned ... Unfortunately, the group has ignored our suggestions, but we remain ready to cooperate on clarifying all the circumstances behind the incident. Court hearings will begin in March, and we are ready to present the data that we have," Chizhov said during a video conference at the Rossiya Segodnya International news Agency, when asked to comment on media reports suggesting that the Netherlands has asked Russia to cooperate on investigation into the non-closure of the airspace above eastern Ukraine.

Flight MH17 crashed with 298 people on board on July 17, 2014, in eastern Ukraine while en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam, leaving no survivors. Ukraine and the self-proclaimed republics in Donbas have blamed each other for the incident.

The crash is being investigated by the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team, which claims that the aircraft was downed by a missile originating from the Russian Armed Forces. The Russian Foreign Ministry has refuted the accusation as groundless and called the investigation biased.

Tsemakh files lawsuit to ECHR against Ukraine, the Netherlands

Volodymyr Tsemakh, the suspect in the case of MH17 downing, filed the complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against Ukraine and the Netherlands

According to the lawyer of the suspect, the complaint concerns the conditions of detention and confinement in Kyiv. Besides, Tsemakh stated about the use of psychotropic drugs against him.

“I filed the complaint to the ECHR in the interests of Tsemakh. I do not possess any detailed information; we wait for the further course of events,” lawyer of Tsemakh, Anatoly Kucheren said.

Eliot Higgins, the founder of the international group of the journalists and investigators Bellingcat, said: "It, sooner, reflects the perverse nature of the whole situation. First of all, with the release of Tsemakh by Ukrainian court within the prisoners’ exchange between Ukraine and Russia, despite the fact, that he is Ukrainian; then his escape to Russia and then the refusal of Russia to cooperate with the Netherlands on his detention and now this case".

How MH370 and MH17 changed the way we think about air travel

Thirty-three Australians were tragically killed in two air disasters which shrouded 2014 and the years which have followed in sadness, anger and frustration.

Both incidents, which left a total of 537 passengers dead, forever seared the flight code of Malaysia Airlines into the consciousness of Australians.

What happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, or MH370, remains perhaps the greatest mystery of aviation and the subject of intense speculation.

Of the 227 passengers, six were Australians. On the morning of March 8, they boarded the Boeing 777-200ER aircraft in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and expected to step off in Beijing, China. The plane never arrived, and the search for the missing jet became the most costly in aviation history. The most likely scenario involved someone in the cockpit of Flight 370, probably Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, re-programming the aircraft's autopilot to travel south across the Indian Ocean.

The downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17, just four months later, appeared far more clear cut. All 283 passengers and 15 crew were killed, including 27 Australians.

A total of 33 Australians were needlessly killed in two air disasters in quick succession.

In the MH17 disaster, the lives of Perth parents Anthony Maslin and Marite "Rin" Norris were ripped apart in the most devastating way.

They lost their three children – Mo, 12, Evie, 10 and Otis, 8 – and Ms Norris' father, Anthony, when the jet was shot down. Their three children had been returning home to Perth for school, while they had stayed behind in Amsterdam.

Why it matters?

A nation of great travellers, Australians want to feel safe as we journey abroad. But there were also broader implications in both stories.

MH17 threw the spotlight on Moscow's intervention in the Ukraine and its likely hand in the disaster, despite denials.

What happened in the cockpit of MH370 continues to intrigue. A picture began to emerge of Captain Zaharie's mental health. Had Malaysia Airlines done enough not only to support a troubled pilot, but also spot the warning signs of an employee struggling with mental illness?

Malaysia Airlines came under intense pressure over its investigation. The carrier and Malaysian government were accused by families of MH370 victims of obscuring the truth. When disasters strike, people need and expect clarity from leaders and those in power.

What has changed?

Family members of victims are pushing for international law changes which will oblige countries embroiled in civil wars to close their airspace.

In the modern age, it was unthinkable a plane like MH370 could simply disappear. In 2016, a new aviation standard meant all aircraft over open ocean report their position every 15 minutes. The 30-day battery life of a plane's underwater locator beacons has also been increased to 90 days, beginning 2020.

Hit with two devastating disasters, Malaysia Airlines renationalized on 1 September 2015, in an attempt to avoid financial uncertainty. Meanwhile, families of the victims of MH370 and MH17 are still fighting for compensation in civil suits.

17-year-old girl tried to steal plane

A 17-year-old girl attempted to steal a small plane at a Fresno, California, airport Wednesday morning before crashing it into a building and a fence, officials said. No one was injured during the incident. 

The incident began at approximately 7:30 a.m. local time when the unnamed teen breached the fence of the Fresno Yosemite International Airport, the airport said in a statement. She entered a King Air 200 propeller-driven aircraft and was able to start one engine. 

The plane then began to move — but it quickly pivoted and crashed into a building and a fence before ever taking flight. The plane sustained what the airport described as "substantial damage."

When officers discovered and arrested the female, who was still seated in the pilot's seat wearing the pilot's headset, she was "disoriented" and "uncooperative," according to the statement, which added that she would be booked at juvenile hall.

The airport stressed in the statement that the incident occurred in the general aviation section of the airport, away from the commercial and military zones. 

"No passengers or commercial airlines were ever at risk in this incident," the airport said. "The motive is still under investigation but there is no indication of any ties to domestic terrorism." 
 
When asked at a press conference how the teen was able to breach the airport's security, airport Police Chief Drew Bessinger replied, "It's a fence. Most any fence can be climbed if you are motivated enough to go over barbed wire."

Plane crashes just short of runway at Moruya Airport

A plane has crashed just short of the runway at Moruya Airport this afternoon.

NSW Police said a man and woman onboard suffered head and leg injuries. "Their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening," the spokesperson said. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau were notified.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson said a Cessna C210 engine failed while it was cruising and the aircraft hit the ground.

Mr Gibson said two people were on board and sustained serious injuries. There was substantial damage to the aircraft. A spokesman for the Westpac Lifesaver 23 rescue helicopter said the Moruya Airport-based crew went to the scene and assisted the injured pilot.

It is understood the pilot made a mayday call as the craft was coming into land, which was picked up by another aircraft.

Moruya SES spokesman Jeff McMahon said a plane had crashed about 800 metres short of the runway in shrubbery. He said there was no smoke or fire.

He said police, paramedics, Fire and Rescue, RFS, council staff and airport management were assisting.

EARLIER: A NSW Police spokesperson confirmed an aircraft crash has occurred at the Moruya Aerodrome just after 1pm and some of the occupants were injured. Police were still at the scene at 1.45pm.

1.30pm: A NSW Ambulance spokesperson said two people were on board the aircraft and it is understood one or both patients were being treated for serious head injuries.

She said three ambulance crews were on scene and a helicopter was on route.

The patients were continuing to be assessed at 1.30pm.

1.22pm: Batemans Bay Fire and Rescue captain Paul Lyons said crews were on their way to an aircraft crash near Moruya Airport.

Several Batemans Bay police vehicles rushed to attend.

Dutch journalists discover large pieces of wreckage at MH17 crash site

Dutch prosecutors say that the cause of the MH17 crash has been determined but skepticism still remains, the journalist says.

Some large pieces of wreckage still remain at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, Eric van de Beek, a journalist with the Novini media outlet told TASS on Monday.

A new article dedicated to the MH17 crash, published at the media outlet’s website, contains a number of photos and a video showing pieces of wreckage, which apparently include the aircraft’s tail-plane, pieces of aircraft covering, pieces of a wing and an oxygen generator. "They are so big that they even can be seen using Google Earth," van de Beek said. "Very much to our surprise no Dutch paper or program has reported this news. I knew that what we are doing is Samizdat, but that the big media in The Netherlands leave this major discovery unreported is beyond me," he added. "If it’s of no interest to the Dutch media and authorities, maybe the Donbass authorities can hand the parts of the wreckage over to the Russian authorities, for them to research what happened to MH17," the journalist noted.

"The question is how important these pieces of wreckage are," the article’s author Stefan Beck said. "A single bolt helped determine the cause of the Bijlmer crash [which occurred in Amsterdam in 1992]. Dutch prosecutors say that the cause of the MH17 crash has been determined but skepticism still remains as no one is studying the wreckage that has been there for a long time," he pointed out.

The Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, a Boeing-777 passenger plane travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down on July 17, 2014, over Ukraine’s eastern region of Donetsk. The crash killed all the 283 passengers and 15 crewmembers. There were nationals of ten states among the dead. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) looking into the crash comprises representatives of the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine.

On May 24, the Team gave an update of the state of affairs in the criminal investigation, claiming that "the BUK-TELAR that was used to down MH17, originates from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile brigade... a unit of the Russian army from Kursk in the Russian Federation."

Russia’s Defense Ministry rejected all the allegations and said that none of the missile systems belonging to the Russian Armed Forces had ever been taken abroad. The ministry noted that Moscow had provided Dutch investigators with overwhelming evidence proving that a Ukrainian Buk missile system had been used to bring down the aircraft.

Preliminary Report on Fatal Chamberlain Plane Crash

The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report for its investigation into the November 30 Chamberlain crash that killed nine and injured three.

The report is preliminary and does not include a cause of the crash. However, in summary, the report says warning signals activated after takeoff signaling that the plane wasn’t going fast enough to continue climbing at the angle it was on. The plane reached its peak altitude of 460 feet before it stalled and ultimately crashed.

According to the report, the plane took off at 12:31 p.m. from runway 31 at the Chamberlain airport and crashed at 12:33 p.m. The plane was destined for Idaho Falls, Idaho.

According to data from the recorder installed on the plane, it rolled 10 degrees to the left immediately after takeoff, the roll decreased to about five degrees left as it climbed to about 170 feet above ground level before reversing to five degrees right. The plane ultimately entered a 64-degree left bank as it reached its peak altitude of 460 feet. The cockpit stall warning and stick shaker became active about one second after liftoff and the stick pusher became active about 15 seconds after liftoff. They continued intermittently for the duration of the two-minute flight.

The report says no radio communications were received from the pilot, and radar contact was never established.

The report also states the pilot and a passenger worked for three hours to remove snow and ice from the airplane before takeoff. Witnesses reported that visibility was limited by snow at the time of the crash.

The victims in the crash have been identified as Kyani founders Jim and Kirk Hansen. The crash also killed Jim Hansen’s father, Jim Hansen Sr.; Kirk Hansen’s children, Stockton and Logan; his sons-in-law, Kyle Taylor and Tyson Dennert; and Jim Hansen’s son, Jake, and grandson, Houston.

Three other extended family members were hospitalized with injuries.

The Hansen’s were executives with Conrad & Bischoff, Kyani and KJ’s Super Stores. The family was reportedly in South Dakota for a hunting trip.

Flight MH370 mystery may never be solved

Flight MH370 mystery may never be solved 'because of crucial lost 18 minutes'

The Malaysian Airlines jet, which was carrying 239 passengers from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappeared from radar just seconds after entered into Vietnamese airspace.

The mystery of doomed Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 may never be solved as it lost contact with air traffic controllers during a crucial 18 minute window, according to reports.

Crucially, this was missed by ground crew in Malaysia who had a busy schedule at the time the jet vanished.

When the team in Kuala Lumpur finally noticed the Boeing 777's disappearance, they presumed it had been taken over by air traffic controllers in Ho Chi Minh, the Atlantic reports.

The Vietnamese team had noticed the jet on their monitors and then saw it vanish - but crucially - it is believed they failed to report the issue to their Malaysian counterparts.

A full 18 minutes passed before ground crew in Kuala Lumpur became aware one of their jets had vanished.

The Malaysian Aviation Safety Network (ASN) is certain that the aircraft was captured mid-flight.

Evidence is mounting that the crash, which has become of the greatest aviation mysteries of all time, was a murder-suicide.

New flight data suggests "some abnormal turns [were] made by the 777 [that] can only be done manually."

French investigators claim captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah was a troubled, lonely man who deliberately killed all passengers and crew on board the flight.

But it will take around "a year" to go through all of the information received from Boeing, sources said in July.

A source, who is 'close to the investigation' said: "Some abnormal turns made by the 777 can only be done manually. So someone was at the helm.

"But nothing is credited that anyone else could have entered the cockpit."

The informant told Le Parisien the new development amid France's judicial inquiry into the crash. It is the only country to conduct one as of yet.

Data analysis indicates the Boeing 777-200ER flew over the Indian Ocean until it ran out of fuel and violently slammed into the water with 239 people on board.

It is suspected the plane's passenger cabin was deliberately depressurised by Shah to kill everyone on board hours before the crash.

Before doing so, he could have put on an oxygen mask in the cockpit so he could continue to fly the aircraft for hours.

At around the same time the cabin was depressurised the electrical system was deliberately turned off, making the plane impossible to track by satellite.

An FBI inspection of Shah's Microsoft flight simulator at home showed he had tested a flight roughly matching the path of MH370, ending in the Indian Ocean after running out of fuel.

His voice was heard in the final radio communication less than two minutes before the plane began to divert from its flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014.

One of his lifelong friends told the Atlantic that he had reluctantly come to the conclusion that Shah deliberately crashed the plane, given the evidence amassed by independent investigators.

The friend, who wasn't named, said: “It’s hard to reconcile with the man I knew. But it’s the necessary conclusion.”

The friend said Shah likely tricked his inexperienced 27-year-old co-pilot, Fariq Hamid, who was on his final training flight, into leaving the cockpit and locked him out.

He said: “Zaharie was an examiner. All he had to say was ‘Go check something in the cabin', and the guy would have been gone.”

Shah's friend doesn't know why the pilot would do such a thing, but thought it might be down to the captain's emotional state.

He added: “Zaharie’s marriage was bad. In the past he slept with some of the flight attendants. And so what? We all do. You’re flying all over the world with these beautiful girls in the back. But his wife knew.”

People who spoke to the Atlantic described Shah, the father of adult children, as lonely and sad.

By David Coleman

Former head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's MH17 Taskforce Matthew Anderson to take war memorial reins

A career diplomat who helped lead the response to the tragic downing of MH17 in Ukraine will become the next director of the Australian War Memorial.

Australia’s deputy high commissioner to the UK and former ambassador to Afghanistan, Matthew Anderson, will succeed Brendan Nelson in the role in 2020 and is expected to start in March.

Before joining the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Anderson spent eight years as an Australian Army officer, including three as a troop commander in the Royal Australian Engineers in 1988-91. He has 32 years experience in government — including his army stint — and served as high commissioner to Samoa in 2007-11 and to the Solomon Islands in 2011-13.

After finishing with the army in 1995, Mr Anderson joined DFAT as a graduate. Nearly 20 years later, he served as the head of the MH17 task force after the aircraft was downed in Ukrainian airspace in July 2014, killing 298 passengers, including 38 Australians.

Flight MH17 families seek answers

Five years go, when flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, Piet Ploeg lost members of his family. He hopes the investigation will bring responsible to justice.

On July 17, 2014, Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 took off from Amsterdam, bound for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As the Boeing 777 flew over eastern Ukraine, it crashed, killing all 298 people on board, including 80 children. Ploeg says "this day changed everything." 

Piet lost his older brother Alex, his sister-in-law and his nephew when flight MH17 was shot down. His brother, a passionate biologist, had wanted to take his wife and son on a trip to the tropics. While their remains have been found, those of Ploeg's brother still has not.

Ploeg says nobody and no luggage has so far been retrieved. Even so, he is hopeful because "several hundred fragments which have not yet been identified will be analyzed using high-end technology — but the results will only be available by June or July next year."

His brother's daughters did not join their dad on the flight to Malaysia. Now, Ploeg looks after them. The younger of the two wants to become a biologist, just like her late father. Ploeg says the death of his brother Alex, his wife and their son "dealt a severe blow" to their parents, who died in 2019. After the death of his brother, Ploeg — like many other relatives and family members of those killed in the MH17 crash — needed psychological counseling. He also quit his job as a public administrator near Utrecht.

Today, Ploeg is a director of Vliegramp MH17, a foundation representing the vast majority of those who lost loved ones on that fateful day in July 2014. He works on a pro bono basis, helping prepare the March trial, assisting others who lost family members and friends in the tragedy.

Ploeg told DW he is often asked about his view of Russia and Ukraine. "They all think I hate Russians, but I don't," he explains.

He never used to follow developments in Eastern Europe, but that all changed after July 2014. Now, he is eager to get his head around the Ukrainian conflict and wants to know, above all, who carries responsibility for the attack on flight MH17.

"We want to learn about the structures behind the people who shot down this plane, and how they did it," he says.

Small plane crash reported at Coleman A. Young International Airport

A small plane crash was reported at the Coleman A. Young International Airport in Detroit.

The small personal twin engine jet was attempting to land at the airport and jet ran off the end of the runway, officials say. The plane had taken off from Willow Run airport and was only carrying the pilot and co-pilot – no passengers were on board.

There were no serious injuries sustained by the crew members.

"At this time, it does not appear runway conditions played any role in the incident," said Director Jason Watt. "The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA will conduct a joint investigation into the accident."

Singapore Airlines plane suffers damage on landing in Yangon airport

A Singapore Airlines (SIA) plane was undergoing repairs after suffering damage due to a "suspected tail strike" in Myanmar last Monday (Nov 25). 

SIA spokesperson said that flight SQ998 from Singapore was landing in Yangon International Airport when the incident happened. 

A tail strike is when the tail of a plane comes into contact with the runway either during takeoff or landing. 

"The aircraft taxied to the terminal uneventfully and all passengers disembarked normally".

Engineers assessed the damage to the Airbus A330-300 and a relief aircraft was sent to Yangon to operate the return flight SQ997, the spokesperson said, adding that the plane departed at 6.23pm (local time).  

"SIA will cooperate closely with the AAIB and also conduct its own internal investigation," added the spokesperson. 

MH370: TV drama that relives fate of Malaysia Airlines passengers is launched

The mini-series has been ordered by France Televisions and will tell the story of how the Boeing 777-200 vanished on a flight from Kulala Lumpur to Beijing in March, 2014.

A TV drama mini-series reliving the tragedy of missing flight MH370 has been confirmed.

Banijay Rights has secured rights to Flight MH370 and France Televisions will work on the English-speaking show.

It is based on the novel, A Life Diverted, by Ghyslain Wattrelos, who lost his wife and two of his three children on the Malaysia Airlines plane, and French journalist Florence de Changy.

The series will be based on perspectives of families, journalists, scientists, pilots and politicians who were all left baffled after the Boeing 777-200 vanished on a journey from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March, 2014.

MH17 Suspect Tsemakh's Daughter Says Her Father 'Not Hiding From Anyone'

The daughter of Vladimir Tsemakh, the ex-commander of one of the air defence units of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, said on Tuesday that her father was not hiding and that no representatives of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), which has placed him on a wanted list, had contacted them.

"We haven't received anything by either mail or the Internet, no one has gotten in touch with us, my father is not hiding from anyone. This was anticipated, [the SBU] needs some kind of new 'buzz' around this case, hence these statements," Maria Tsemakh said.

The daughter's statements come as the Interior Ministry of Ukraine updated its website earlier in the day listing Vladimir Tsemakh, who had previously been called an eyewitness by Kiev in the case of the 2014 MH17 crash in Donbas, as a wanted person. His data was posted in the "Persons hiding from the authorities" section with the date of his disappearance — September 23. It is said he is "a person hiding from bodies of pretrial investigation."

In June, the former commander was abducted by the Ukrainian special forces and taken to Kiev. He was subsequently released in early September in a prisoner swap with Russia and returned to Donetsk.

Flight MH17 crashed with 298 people on board on 17 July 2014, in eastern Ukraine while en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam, leaving no survivors. Ukraine and the self-proclaimed republics in the Donbass region have blamed each other for the incident.

MH17 case: Ukraine puts suspect Tsemakh on wanted list

Tsemakh is thought to be a witness of committing a terrorist act that resulted in casualties.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has put Volodymyr Tsemakh on the wanted list.

The relevant information has been posted on the official website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine.

The date of disappearance is defined as September 23, 2019.

He is wanted as a person hiding from the investigating authorities.

Ukraine's spec-ops forces managed to detain Tsemakh, who is a citizen of Ukraine, in the town of Snizhne in late June 2019. He was reportedly a commander of an anti-aircraft unit in Donbas back in 2014.



Aviation Drill On ‘Missing Plane’ Sends Shivers Among Kenyans

An aviation drill by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) on Tuesday sent shivers among Kenyans over a possible crash.

It was reported that a plane from Rusinga island had gone missing.

A viral social media post indicated that the plane with six people on board was expected to land at Wilson Airport at around 9:30 am but couldn’t be located on KCAA radar.

It was further reported that the plane was last located in Narok.

In a statement, however, KCAA Director General Gilbert Kibe allayed the fears saying they were conducting a drill aimed at assessing the country’s aviation preparedness in case of an emergency or accident.

“The Aviation Search and Rescue Exercise dubbed OKOA MAISHA ASAREX 2019, was aimed at assessing the State’s level of preparedness in coordination, communication, command and control of the National Aeronautical Search and Rescue system in responding to an aviation incident or accident, ” the statement reads in part.

The multi-agency drill, according to KCAA, involved several state organs including KCAA as overall coordinator, National Police Service, Kenya Defence Forces, Kenya Meteorological Department, National Disaster Operations Centre, Kenya Wildlife Services, Ministry of Health, Kenya Airports Authority and Kenya Airways.

Small plane crash lands near Vero Beach Regional Airport, no one hurt

A small plane made a crash landing just south of the Vero Beach Regional Airport on Monday afternoon.

Photos posted to social media by Vero Beach police showed a single-engine Piper Cherokee aircraft in the grass with its wing ripped off and damage to the body of the plane.

Police said the aircraft, while is owned by FlightSafety International, a flight training and simulation company, lost power and went down in the 4100 block of Aviation Blvd.

The pilot avoided crashing into a populated area and made an emergency landing in an open field just northwest of Dodger Stadium, police said.

Officers are urging drivers to avoid the area as crews investigate and clean up the wreckage.

Pilot in the South Dakota plane crash was given the OK to fly in limited visibility

The pilot of the plane that crashed and left nine dead in South Dakota was given the OK to fly by the Federal Aviation Administration, despite limited visibility in the air, according to a press release from the National Transportation Safety Administration.

The pilot initially filed an instrument flight rules (IFR) which describes how an aircraft operates when a pilot is unable to navigate with visual references with the FAA. The single-engine Pilatus PC-12 was cleared on Saturday to fly from Chamberlain Municipal Airport to Idaho Falls, Idaho, the NTSB said.

The visibility that day was about half a mile with snow and ice along with overcast skies, the NTSB said. When the pilot didn't activate his flight plan, the FAA issued an alert for a missing plane, the NTSB said.

The plane crashed one mile north of the Chamberlain Airport. Investigators arrived at the Chamberlain, South Dakota, crash site on Monday, December 2, 2019.

Twelve people were on the flight and three survived, the NTSB said. The three survivors were taken to Sioux Falls for treatment.

Four generations of an Idaho Falls family were killed in the crash while traveling on a hunting trip. Brothers Jim and Kirk Hansen, founders of health and wellness company Kyäni Inc. were on the plane with their father, Jim Hansen Sr., Kyäni president Travis Garza said in a statement. Also killed in the crash were Jim Hansen Jr.'s son, Jake Hansen, and Jake's son, Houston. Kirk Hansen's sons, Stockton and Logan, and his sons-in-law, Kyle Naylor and Tyson Dennert, died in the crash.

Three NTSB investigators arrived at the crash site Monday after being delayed by inclement weather, the agency said. They're expected to complete their work in Chamberlain by the weekend. A preliminary report on the crash is expected to be published in two weeks, the NTSB said.

The entire investigation to determine the cause of the crash is expected to be completed within one to two years, the NTSB said.

Russia let MH17 suspect return to Ukraine, say Dutch

Dutch prosecutors accused Russia today of allowing a suspect in the downing of flight MH17 to return to rebel-held eastern Ukraine in defiance of an extradition agreement.

Vladimir Tsemakh, an alleged air defence specialist for separatists, was one of dozens of prisoners exchanged by Kiev and Moscow in September in a deal hailed as a first step towards ending five years of conflict.

The Netherlands said it had then immediately asked Moscow at the highest levels to hand him over for questioning over the 2014 downing of the Malaysia Airlines plane, but that Russia said it could not find him.

“According to media reports Mr Tsemakh had already returned to his residence in eastern Ukraine,” the Dutch prosecution service said in a statement.

“The Public Prosecution Service has concluded that Russia willingly allowed Mr Tsemakh to leave the Russian Federation and refused to execute the Dutch request, while under the European Convention on Extradition, it was obliged to do so.”

The convention is under the auspices of the Council of Europe, the continent’s foremost human rights body, which Moscow joined in 1996.

Dutch prosecutors said they “regard Tsemakh as a suspect”, and that they had questioned him in Kiev earlier this year following his arrest by Ukrainian government forces.

But Ukraine then handed him over to Russia as a key part of September’s swap, despite appeals by the Netherlands not to do so.

The Netherlands said it sent Russia an extradition request before the plane carrying him to Moscow had even landed as there were indications he wanted to flee to eastern Ukraine.

“The Russian Federation does not extradite its own citizens but since Mr Tsemakh is a Ukranian citizen, there were no impediments for his extradition,” it said.

But despite a personal appeal by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Russia said he could not be extradited “because no information regarding the whereabouts of Mr Tsemakh in the Russian Federation was available.”

The Dutch said the Tsemakh episode would have “no effect on the start of the MH17 criminal trial” on March 9. — AFP

3 dead after a plane crash in San Antonio

An emergency landing went horribly wrong Sunday night as a plane crashed in San Antonio, leaving three dead, according to fire officials.

The small, single-engine plane was leaving Sugar Land and headed to Boerne, Texas, when it developed engine trouble, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood told CNN affiliate KSAT-TV.

The pilot wanted to make an emergency landing at San Antonio International Airport, Hood said, but ended up crashing into the street.

"I thought I heard a car crash into some dumpsters. But that's not what it was at all," Catherine Law, 26, told CNN affiliate KABB-TV.

Reports of the crash came in around 6:30 p.m. CST, Hood said.

The aircraft was found on the sidewalk and street completely demolished when first responders arrived.

"There were no commercial buildings hit, no apartment complexes," he said. "As tragic as it is, it could've been much worse."

A 20-block scan of the area was conducted in every direction to ensure no debris remained, Hood said.

The San Antonio Fire Department is working with police and the city's Aviation Department on the investigation.

Hood said his department was awaiting a call from the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration for the next phase of the investigation.

Former OSCE Representative Alexander Hug: "People in Donbas Don't Think It's Their War"

Former OSCE SMM official Alexander Hug was able to speak to people from both sides of the demarcation line and reports that they all believe this war is not theirs. In the interview, he tells how time doesn't help as it widens the gap between the people either side of the line instead of bringing them closer. Different curriculums, different agendas make future reconciliation ever harder.

The Minsk agreement is something that was on the table for the last years but, of course, after the change of the new government here and after this agreement, the Steinmeier formula, it really got to the larger public. And there are political forces that say "it's not working, It should be dismantled." How would you assess that? From the point of view when it was approved, signed, at first in autumn 2014, then in winter 2015. What are the critical things in it? What would be your assessment of that agreement at this point of history?

The conflict in eastern Ukraine continues. The Special Monitoring Mission of the OSCE, the UN human rights monitoring missions and others continue to report about ceasefire violations, about civilian casualties, about heavy weapons in areas where they should not be. So at first look, one might easily conclude that indeed these agreements apparently don't work. Now it is very difficult to prove that they might have been working because it would need to prove the absence of violence. And it's very difficult to prove something that isn't there. So the absence of fighting -- might be a reduction of fighting -- but to make that case is very difficult. What is certainly safe to say is that these agreements have helped to contain the conflict to where it is now.

Now, technically, in any armed conflict, any armed violence need to be dealt with in similar ways. You need to stop the fighting, which translates into a non-use of weapon as it is written in the agreements, or a ceasefire by translation. You would need to make sure that the sides are not too close because that leads unavoidably to fighting. Translate it into the Minsk language, this is disengagement. You need to ensure that the weapons that reach our long distances are being pulled away at distance where they can't reach their aim any longer, and that is -- in Minsk language -- the withdrawal of heavy weapons. You need to ensure the safety and security of the civilians -- that means you need to demine. That has found its way into the Minsk agreements. So now, whether these items are agreed in Minsk or elsewhere, they will be the same to deal with any armed violence of similar nature. And now this of course, leaves away the political will that is needed to implement these measures. But looking at the technical side of things, these items will be necessary in order to stop the armed violence. Once again, it is difficult to prove that they had an effect because obviously, and the fact is that the violence continues. 

If an average Ukrainian had fears about the agreement - how do you think [the Minsk agreements] could be explained [to them]? What do you think is missing from the explanation of Minsk? I don't ask you to argue and prove why it's the best agreement, we can agree that it's maybe definitely not perfect. But to those who are concerned, how would you explain it? What do you think is missing in the discussion? 

First of all, to quote a very known person who once famously said that it's easy to start a war, but very difficult to make peace. So if pulling back to where the situation was before the conflict started, if that was easy, then we would not sit here together. So everyone has to acknowledge that the task ahead, especially after so many years, will not be an easy task. That is the first very important factor to acknowledge. It will be very difficult and it will take difficult decisions to make sure that these technical measures to end the fighting and to stop the bloodshed will be implemented. So that at first is very key and important to understand. 

You mentioned the time, so many years. On whose side is the time?

Well, it's certainly not on the [side] of the people of Donbas and by extension, all of the people of Ukraine. The time passes and the war and the conflict continues.

I would argue that because this war doesn't divide people that have been divided by history, by language or ethnicity, the conflict itself is the dividing factor. And the longer this fighting lasts, the longer there is a contact line, the more risky it becomes that the Ukrainians on the non-government controlled side separate themselves from the Ukrainians on the government-controlled side and vice-versa. And the wider this gap gets, the more difficult it will become to bring it back together. The more urgently, therefore, it is to make sure that the gap doesn't become bigger. One important measure, of course, is to try to stop the fighting because that is a key problem in this equation. The more death, the more tragedy, the more destruction, the bigger that gap becomes. But also other measures in terms of how Ukraine's non-government controlled areas are being perceived in areas controlled by the government and how they themselves perceive how they're welcome is of high irrelevance because that will also give them the feeling as to how they will be welcomed across that gap. Therefore, once again, I do think time is not on the side of Ukrainians on both sides of the line, all over Ukraine.

Would you explain how exactly it plays to the life of the people, this fact that the time is not on their side? What's happening? You came to Ukraine in February 2014 and you left in 2018. Though you are no longer working -- for almost a year -- here in Ukraine, how did you see the development? What was the development in the non-government controlled territories, in the occupied territories, in Donetsk when you've been? How have these territories been changing? We haven't been there. Many of our viewers had no chance to go there. 

This allows everyone to reflect how this all has started. One should not forget that in early 2014, in fact, up to summer 2014 and autumn, there was no contact line. It was very fluid. The fighting was in pockets. It was across areas. It was not really a line that was visible there. It wasn't there before. It had been created through the Minsk agreements, and it's therefore an artificial line. So that line in itself is a product of this conflict. And one should not to forget that there was nothing dividing these people in the sense of a contact line...  There were no obstacles on the way to travel from what is now government controlled areas to what is now non-government controlled areas. So that is very important. Now that meant the lives of people that use these connections on the road, on the rail, on the plane to go to work, to see their relatives, to do business or simply travel for pleasure is now interrupted. It has been interrupted and now for many years, and this interruption of course has impact on their lives. One obvious impact is in security. When they still do cross -- and many, thousands every day still do -- this line, which is a very important figure to consider. [They] risk their lives when they do so. And that's, you know, people do still die when they do cross the line, be it out of exhaustion, of the long waiting hours exposed to the elements, or because of the security risks that they still face in these areas. But the line, that contact line and the continued fighting, also causes other security risk. It causes risks of damage to the property these people live in, it causes damage to infrastructure that these civilians depend on, on both sides of the contact line -- water, electricity, gas, just to mention a few. It has impacts further in on terms of their psychology, because of the continued fighting every day, nonstop. And as I've mentioned, these ceasefire violations continued unabated throughout these years, every day. And people are living close to it. 

Their lives in non-government controlled areas and their lives in government controlled areas have taken different courses in these many years. They listen to different news. They had been educated with different curriculums. They pay with different currencies. Uh, they drive cars with different number plates. They follow different cultural events on either side of the contact line. And that now for many years, that creates different lives on these two sides of the contact line.

There are people, of course, that still remember how it was before the war started. There are many, however, who soon will not remember any longer how it was before the conflict started. A young child that started to grow up when the conflict started was five or six in 2014, is now 11-12 years old. That kid is about to graduate, be it on the government side or non-government side, but that kid will not remember or hardly remember how it was before the conflict started. But because there's formative years now, the last six years, there'll be the years that it will remember. 

There is a lot of discussion that there should be good preparation, that there should be a really detailed plan, or something. But it's hard to imagine how long it should take to prepare to work with the conflict. Or do you think it's not about just preparation? How do you see the timeline of the solution, if it's there? You know, not everybody here also agrees that it should be resolved right now.

Well, certainly, it is necessary to look into all aspects of lives in areas beyond government control and government control and what impact this war had on them. I just mentioned a few before. This area should be mapped out, the problems and how to deal with them should be analyzed, but that should not take that serious amount of time.

What is also important is that if action is taken, and some action can be taken by Ukraine alone, without having to negotiate with Moscow directly... It also requires coordination with the international community that is there also with their respective mandates to help. But what I think is equally important, that one is not getting stuck in planning, analyzing, and coordinating. It is important that actually action is being put in place with people for whom all of these should be at the end of the day, realize that action had been taken to them, that they feel that those that can make a difference to them make that difference to them, so that they feel it, that they see it and that they see a difference between now and  the years before. 

There is quite a huge number of people crossing the contact line these days. Is it really unusual for another types of conflict? What makes it different? Because the Donbas is unusually large territory for any conflict we know globally of these kinds. Especially in the post-Soviet space. 

There is a lot of people still living in these areas. There's a lot of people who have connections on both sides of the contact line, because there was no line before the war started, and we had this discussion just earlier on.

If there would be a group on one side of Ukrainians and a completely different group on the other side of the contact line, one likely would not see that frequent crossing of that contact line. But because there wasn't a line before, because there were no two groups before on one or the other side of what is now a contact line, the people don't see each other -- at least at this point to a vast majority -- otherwise the numbers would be smaller, not different. Yes, there are many of those that cross the line that do so because they claimed their pension and other benefits they get only on the government controlled side. That one should not leave out when looking at these numbers. 

But still looking at other conflicts where the contact line or the front line, if you wish, normally is a division line between people normally drawn along ethnic lines, religious lines or other lines that would define one group different from another. And I think this is the positive figure of all of the negative figures that one hears about this conflict. The figure about the people that still cross this line and want to cross this line. 

How do you, with your knowledge and experience, understand these so-called Steinmeier formula? Although it's a short text, many people still don't get it. 

Well, and a lot of that's still to be defined. And this is probably the reason why a lot of people still have question marks. It is a sequencing that is laid out in this formula, as to what needs to come in place in terms of elections and at which point in time these different elements will come together, but under which circumstances and where in the bigger picture this formula will be plucked in, that is not stipulated in that formula. And that requires a further discussion.

So what do you think is exactly requiring the further discussion? I think that the major question people have - would there be any kind of people with guns, troops at the time of their elections? Though, of course, the OSCE would say "no, if there are people with weapons, you can't recognize these elections." But this is not really clear there. 

Well, one thing has to be absolutely clear, I do think, is that if you have tanks, multiple launch rocket systems still standing in areas where they can be used, if you still register up to a thousand ceasefire violations a day at the contact line, as the special monitoring mission of the OSCE does per day, if you still register civilian casualties at the contact line as a cause of the ongoing fighting, as reported by the United Nations' human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine, it is clear that there is an active conflict ongoing. 

They require full implementation and verify implementation, so that it can be made sure before any other process starts, that the weapons are gone away and stay away, that armed men are gone away and stay away, and that people who move about and go about can do so safely. That applies both to civilians, but also to any international organization that would need to operate in that area. 

I think why people are also struggling -- they don't imagine how all of a sudden the weapon isn't there. You know, all of a sudden Russia or the separatists -- they just withdraw. What should it look like? How does this demilitarization take place? When you don't have a picture in your mind, it looks impossible. 

The first important phase is there needs to be a silence at the contact line. The ceasefire has to be the starting point. And, as happened now at Stanytsia Luhanska or Zolote, if the sides go further away from one another, the risk that the fighting starts is significantly reduced. 

That only, however, is also possible and sustainable if heavy weapons that -- often far behind these areas -- are being withdrawn and remain withdrawn. And the only way to make sure that sides actually disengage and that weapons remain withdrawn is that you have a third entity to verify, not just to monitor, but to verify that these weapons have been withdrawn and remain withdrawn. And for that verification process, you require cooperation with the sides and straightforward it should be resolved there is that the sides would need to hand down to the verifier a list of equipment that they have to withdraw, so that the verifier can go to an area and say: yes, this tank is now here and the next day's here, and this tank needs to be in an area where the verifier has unhindered access and that area needs to be permanently surveyed, for instance, with electronic means or physically by having the verifier being permanently located there. At that point, it can be verified that that tank is not any longer on the battlefield, or at least in the night and fires and goes back in the morning. But it remains there and stays there. And only then you can speak about the verification, and the verification of withdrawal of armaments is a basis, not the only, but it's a basis to build trust between the sides. Because if one side sees that weapons have been withdrawn and remain verifiably withdrawn, only then they will be assured that if they do the same, that they will not be betrayed or the other side will take advantage.

So that has to be a mirrorlike move on both sides of the contact line. Unilateral moves in this regard will be unhelpful, they will not work.

Is it realistic from also the past experience that this happens or these kinds of simultaneous actions are doable?

These technical measures have been tested in other conflicts as well. Wherever you have small arms and heavy arms engaged, you have positions to close. It's a natural thing, you have to take the fighting sides away from another that they can't reach each other with the small arms any longer. 

And you need to take weapons that have a long reach when you fire them. You need to take them so far away that they, even if they fight, they can't reach the other side any longer. And you need to park them in an area where they're not being taken out any longer at night quietly put to the front, been fired and put back again in the morning.

And this happened elsewhere. That is not unique: what is being prescribed in the Minsk agreements. It happened in other armed conflicts around the world. 

Does the OSCE SMM mission have the mandate and capacity to do that in case there is a political will? Maybe you can explain from your previous experience. 

I do believe that a third entity -- the OSCE, the UN, anyone else is likely required to assist that process. So you have one from one side, one from the other side, and the third entity, normally an international officer that then makes sure that the verification on either side of the contact line is done by the [sides] together so that no one can argue against the other. That's in the best case, where you have these military commissions, joint military commissions elsewhere. And if anything, in the Minsk agreements, the mechanism through which non-adherence to the agreements can be followed up is missing, and this is a point where, I believe, Minsk has a deficit because there is no mechanism through which violations of the agreements can be pursued. There is no follow up. There is no consequence if there is a ceasefire violation, if a person dies, if a house is destroyed, if a bridge is blown up, if a field is mined, if a tank is where it shouldn't be. There are no consequences, not for the troops on the ground and not for the politicians endorsing or not reversing it. No political costs attached. And that has to change. So the accountability mechanism or the lack of an accountability mechanism within that Minsk framework is a significant deficit that needs to be overcome. And that is certainly something I would encourage everyone that is involved in this process to consider because that will help to end the impunity with which at this point in time, these agreements are still being violated.

Do you think the discussion on this accountability helps at the moment where anyway the sides are trying to build any agreement? 

It's one puzzle piece that is required. It's not the silver bullet that will bring this to a conclusion. Once again, I'm not naive to assume that all these technical arrangements will sort out this conflict. No, political will in the end and likely only political will will. But meanwhile, those directly engaged and responsible should make sure that they build up the capacity, that they're ready to actually implement these technical measures once that political will is being materialized.

Can you explain why we are speaking about Zolote, Petrivske, Stanytsia [Luhanska]? Because there is such a long contact line. Is it just these villages and these territories in the agreement? And how much is it out of the whole contact line, of the whole territory where the troops are?

Well, first of all, the disengagement at Stanytsia Luhanska, to take this as an example, what's very important and proven, at least to this day, as being a rather successful process. It helped not only to reduce the fighting in that area. It helped to demine the area, it helped to rebuild the bridge, it helped to allow the people to cross that part of the contact line more easily. If there would have been no disengagement, all of that would not have happened. So clearly disengagement works if there is political will to it.

Zolote is also a potential crossing point. Also there it makes sense because if you want to have this as a crossing point, it will not work if it is militarized. Therefore moving people away. That, of course, would also be helpful. Then eventually, once that will be a crossing point that this will then be one to safely cross.

Now, all the three areas that now had been disengaged counting together are roughly at the length of three-four kilometers, so there is less than a percent of the entire contact line, if you take the number of 480 kilometers of all the line, depending on how you measure it. So there's much more to disengage, obviously, all along that line.

And that the fighting continues, it's not least a result of the fact that in many areas along the contact line, the sides are simply far too closely pitched at one another, very close across the road, a few meters only dividing them. And that's a recipe for more tension and the recipe for more fighting.

But it looks like with these three kilometers overall it is just a very, very tiny bit of the whole.

Yes, it is less than a percentage. 99% still needs to be done. But what it shows is that it can work. And what it also shows, what is probably even more important, that it will serve the people. It will help people to feel more safe, to have more freedom of movement, to be able to cross the contact line in a more relaxed, less tense area where they have to cross through armed men and minefields. That I think is very important. It shows that disengagement is one tool of many, again, it's not the only, but one tool that can help to calm down the situation, to ease the fighting, combine it with demining, with the verified withdrawal of heavy weapons. And before the measures foreseen in Minsk, you will be able then to stabilize and effectively install a ceasefire that is sustainable, not just holding a few hours or a few days, but sustainably, it is a resilient ceasefire because the sides are too far away to start fighting, the heavy weapons are packed away so that they can't be used any longer. The mines are gone, they're not able to hurt anyone any longer. And you have it all verified. At that point, you have a resilient, sustainable ceasefire, and that is what I think and I would suggest that implementing these measures should be aiming at.

You've come, I wonder how many times to the non-government controlled Donbas.  I know the time has passed since you are not any longer officially employed by the OSCE SMM. But the mood of the people was changing, you know. I'm speaking about the civilians, of course. 

Well, as you have just said for yourself, the OSCE for itself and I for myself, I believe there was never a poll taken to have a very broad and deep insight as to what people are thinking. That aside, anecdotally, indeed, people throughout the years told me quite often the same and it didn't matter on which side of the contact you would ask the question.

And the first thing people would say is they would like to have an end to the fighting. They say also, it is not their war. It's someone else's war, but not theirs. Again, an indication that it's not people against people. It is not a group-driven conflict. They also say they don't understand why this is continuing. Meaning in their view, from their own assessment, there has been no reason why this is continuing. And again, an indication that they had no disgruntlement against Ukraine on the other side and that on both sides of the contact line. 

I have also met many civilians not affiliated with the armed formations in non-government controlled areas, that would clearly say that they feel as Ukrainians. When you ask them, of course, how this should be arranged in a post-conflict time, you will get all kinds of different answers in terms of how the political arrangement should be looking like. But in terms of their identification, as to where they feel they belonged to, I think there was quite a uniform response by the normal civilian that you will meet in the street. People even would communicate in Ukrainian in the streets of Donetsk when that was necessary. And that so in the presence of armed men. So I do feel that people are not necessarily reflecting as to what the news is reflecting the hearing in non-government controlled areas. Whether that is still now the case, a year after I left, I can't judge, but at the time it at least appeared to me that the conflict that the people see in front of their eyes every day for many years now, they clearly see and say and told that it is not theirs. 

Currently, it was announced that there might be a meeting between president Putin and president Zelenskyy. That will be the first since many years. And the first of a new Ukrainian leader, already in December. Many says that a Ukrainian president should be very well prepared for that meeting. We really don't understand what should be exactly prepared. Do we expect a plan? I understand, it's not in your knowledge to know, but if you're a specialist, you think: What can they come out of this kind of meeting? We understand that they won't come and say: yeah, that's peace. No, you don't expect that. But what can come out of this discussion? Because there are some high, very high expectations. But also there are people who say that it is useless anyways to meet.

I would start with the expectations. One thing, it is important to make clear to everyone that this war, this conflict cannot be resolved with a single meeting. It will take more than that.

But at the same time without talking, without the dialogue of some sort, it will take even longer. So I would encourage any dialogue that would aim at a peaceful resolution of this war. But it is important to make clear to the public here and internationally, that one goes realistically into such meetings, so that one is clear from the very beginning that this is not a one-stop event, but one of many more to come. A lot has happened in the past five or six years, and that requires a lot more discussion for it all to be sorted out. Ukraine shares a 2,000-kilometer border with Russia.

For me, it is important that the two nations talk to one another. But it should be on equal footing, and it should aim to resolve that situation in Eastern Ukraine peacefully. 

But for you, for instance, you would definitely follow, even if you don't work, you will follow -- what do you think this kind of a minimum, a humble minimum of their realistic progress?

I think, a genuine discussion between these two presidents. It does not need to be public, but a discussion that is not driven by accusations from either or the other side, but the discussion on substance, I think is required. And the many more are required so that the facts on the ground can be discussed and not allegations being traded in this meeting.

I think it should be a fact-based discussion aimed at resolving the conflict, the war peacefully. 

But you know what anybody would say -- that in this conflict, there is a clear -- for many Ukrainians -- aggressor, the conflict is taking place on the Ukrainian soil. And for many, many Ukrainians it's clear that it's not Ukrainian government who started the war. So they also want kind of to hear that argument, that the president has this argument. Or you think at this stage of the conflict, it's obvious that there is no way that the president won't really discuss it?

It is obvious and has never been different. And it's documented by a signature of Russia on the Minsk agreement: that Russia is part of this conflict. So there is no doubt about that. The signature itself makes it very clear. Whatever you call them, but it is part to that conflict, and it has a responsibility which it has taken on by signing these agreements. So I think that is clear.

What is also clear is that finger pointing across the border from both sides over the past five or six years has not brought this any further. It has brought it into a stalemate.

I've been looking at the stipulated arrangements that had been made in the course of the years too, which have been aimed, when you read these documents, at reducing and ending the fighting and making sure that the territorial sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine is reestablished. That should be the aim. And that has to be the aim of this discussion. 

You've been working in different conflicts, globally. How do you see this one? A lot of Ukrainians would say, and a lot of people think that their conflict is unique. In some ways, it's probably unique because there is also the proxy war here. How do you see it overall? From your previous experience as well. 

My own experiences of conflict and war and compared to the war here in Ukraine, is that the others have been largely, not only, but largely driven by ethnic, religious differences and division. They also had the political component of course, but here, the people on the ground had nothing to do with and still are not part of the conflict itself. They might be drawn into it, they are maybe suffering from it, but the ethnic conflict type, religious conflict type can not be found here. This again is the big difference. And it is also the opportunity to resolve this differently than other conflicts. So there is a group dynamic evolving. What is the same, however, in all of the conflicts I have seen, is the suffering of the civilian people. No matter whether it's a politically driven conflict like here, ethnically or religiously where civilians suffer most. Because unlike the people with arms and guns, civilians are not protected. They're not in the trenches. They're not in armed vehicles. They're in their gardens, in their kitchens and are not protected, and that is the same elsewhere. 

What makes you after you were, let's say, disappointed about the conflict, but as well also hopeful?

Well, hopeful first. I'm hopeful because I can see that there is a lot of discussion and debate about this conflict in Ukraine. Some of these discussions are helpful, some are not, but eventually, only debate and discussion will resolve this conflict, only dialogue can resolve this conflict. The fact that people at the contact line continue to cross the line is also very positive, and I've mentioned that a couple of times now. This you don't see elsewhere. This should be their motivation for making sure that there is no division, and their motivation to stop the fighting. In the end, this all should be for the people that live there and for the people that live in the Donbas so they get back to their normal lives.

What will Donbas be without its people? That doesn't make any sense. Any action should aim at making sure that people that suffer from this conflict have an end and see an end to that suffering. 

Disappointing of course, is that I know very well that with all good intentions of the civil society, of the people on the ground, the international community, the government in Kyiv, if there is no political will, and that mainly, not only, but mainly needs to materialize in Moscow, to some degree also here in Kyiv, this conflict will not be resolved and it has not been resolved. And it's the key to make sure that what has been written into Minsk and what is required to end, the bloodshed has been implemented. That political will has disregarded the people on the ground. If the politicians that make the decisions to continue the fighting and not to implement what they have agreed would think of what consequences it has for the people on the ground. they often claim they protect, then, I'm sure the situation would be different. So that is disappointing, of course, to see still not happening, but I'm convinced that it is still possible to end this. And I know the only way to do so is peacefully.

9 Family Members Killed In South Dakota Plane Crash

Nine members of an extended Idaho family died after a plane crashed in Chamberlain, S.D., near the center of the state, on Saturday. As authorities say, among those killed were two children and the pilot.

The family of 12 were returning home to Idaho Falls from a weekend hunting trip in South Dakota. In a message posted on Facebook, Travis Garza, president of the nutritional products company Kyani, said the company's founders, Jim and Kirk Hansen, and seven of their relatives, died in the crash.

Garza said the other victims include: Jim and Kirk's father, James Hansen; Kirk's children, Stockton and Logan; his sons-in-law, Kyle Taylor and Tyson Dennert; and Jim's son, Jake, and grandson, Houston.

He said three family members were "seriously injured" in the crash. Kirk's son, Josh; Jim's son, Matt and his son-in-law, Thomas, are being treated at a South Dakota hospital, according to Garza.

NPR has not independently confirmed the identities of the victims. "We are all mourning and ask your prayers for families of the affected families," Garza wrote.

Jim and Kirk Hansen were also executives with the petroleum products distributor Conrad & Bischoff and KJ's Super Stores.

Twelve people were aboard the Pilatus PC-12 when it crashed shortly after takeoff Saturday afternoon en route from Chamberlain to Idaho Falls, Idaho, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson told NPR. NTSB, which is handling the investigation, could not confirm the cause of the crash.

The three survivors were taken to Sioux Falls, S.D., about 130 miles east of Chamberlain.

According to Pilatus' website, the current PC-12 model of the single-engine turboprop plane lists a maximum capacity of one pilot and 10 passengers.

Investigators from the NTSB have been dispatched to the scene in rural Brule County, agency spokesman Knudson said. He added that investigators will look at a range of factors, including weather conditions and the aircraft's history.

A preliminary investigation report is expected to be released within two weeks, Knudson said.

Massive preparations for MH17 trial revealed; Hearings spread over 25 weeks

The court case examining criminal responsibility in the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 will begin on March 9 at the heavily secured court complex at Schiphol airport. The case, officially assigned to the District Court in The Hague, will also provide a live stream of the court hearings, and a press center to accommodate up to 500 journalists and 300 workplaces.

The court has reserved 25 weeks for the trial. In 2020, those dates are March 9-13, March 23-27, June 8-July 3, and August 31-November 13. The court will also hear the case in 2021 from February 1 through March 26.

The surviving relatives of the 298 people killed will all be given an opportunity to speak in Courtroom D at the judicial complex.

Three judges will preside over the court case, with two more judges Acting in a reserve capacity.

Laws in the Netherlands were also modified to make it possible to conduct portions of the trial in English. Those testifying in the case who are not able to attend will be able to do so by live video.

Security was identified as a top concern, and thus anyone wishing to attend the hearings will have to pass a security screening to gain access to the building.

A helping evening for the National Monument MH17

Hundreds of attendees took part in the commemorating evening at the National Monument MH17 at Park Vijfhuizen. An evening where the memory is in the center. Lights were lit, flowers were laid and people were quiet.

To be able to be with their loved ones in mind, to listen to poems, to the beautiful songs of Annet Bootsman and Sandra Been, listen to 10-year-old Lucy read the children's story 'The death of Grandpa Mouse'. It was cold, a light wind was blowing this dark November evening. "Can I go to you then". With this last song people got together, warmed themselves up and experienced that the evening, an initiative of the Friends of the National Monument MH17, works healing.

The van der Peijl family is well represented. Of the eleven children that this Five-house family has 'very special, we are all still there', ten have come to the Lichtjesavond with their other halfs.

About 400 tripods were made so that just as many lights could continue to burn on the monument. That sight alone gives goose bumps. An impressive sight such as the monument and the paths were illuminated that evening. Some people who did not have relatives on board laid flowers to the monument too.

Gerard Harke from Zwanenburg and his girlfriend Raili had done that for everyone they miss. Gerard had done a walk on the monument earlier during the day. But that will soon change. The memorial must also be impressive during the day.

Indonesian investigators blame design flaws with Boeing 737 for crash

Indonesian experts tarnish the reputation of Malaysian airlines, who was the owner of missing MH370 and the shot down MH17.

Indonesian investigators blame design flaws with Boeing 737 for crash that killed 189 passengers and crew when plane slammed into the sea just after takeoff.

Lion Air‘s flight JT-610 was heading to Pangkal Pinang, an island north of the capital, Jakarta, when it lost with air control in October 2018.

Just 13 minutes after take-off 189 passengers and crew plunged to their death.

On the 8th of March, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared while flying from Malaysia to China, and was never located – nor were the passengers. Many experts think that it was a plane crash.

Only months later, in July of 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down on its path from Amsterdam to Malaysia while flying over Ukraine. All 283 passengers and 15 crew on board died. But there is a theory, that it was not a downing, but a plane crash.

A new presentation about MH17

A new presentation about what the MH17 process is to be demonstrated in the Schiphol Judicial Complex. The court is going to provide more information about the MH17 process, for example, the planning during the first session days.

The Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine are working together to conduct the international criminal investigation of the cause of the crash of flight MH17 and those thought to be responsible. On the basis of the criminal investigation the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (OM) took the decision on 19 June 2019 to prosecute the suspects.

The trial against the MH17 suspects starts in March 2020.

Key MH17 suspect is ready to testify only if his security is provided

The lawyer of so called key MH17 witness said that Vladimir Tsemakh is ready to provide testimony about the plane crash to Dutch or Ukrainian investigators, but only on the territory of self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine.

Vladimir Tsemakh

Tsemakh was previously captured by Ukrainian forces for the video where he is shown saying that he he commanded an anti-air brigade. He is thought to be a key witness in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July, 2014.

Tsemakh’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, in his European human rights court (EHRC) lawsuit against Kyiv and Amsterdam, said that in spite of the fear of testifying his client is ready to do it.

Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins: New defendants may appear in MH17 case

Higgins suggests that new defendants may appear before trial in March 2020

This was stated by founder of Bellingcat research group Eliot Higgins in an interview with Ukrinform.

"I do not know about witnesses and other similar details, but perhaps more people will be convicted before the trial begins in March 2020. It will be a long process, I expect the first hearing to be rather administrative, and the actual trial will start later," he said.

Bellingcat is an online publication founded by British journalist and blogger Eliot Higgins on July 15, 2014, two days before the plane crash.

Worm hotels will save MH17 monument

Managers of the Dutch Nightcrawlers company believe that worm hotels will help to make MH17 monument look more beautiful as they would help trees around grow much better.

A worm hotel is a large wooden box with drawers and levels. There is also a window (with hatch) to see the worms doing their job. It works according to the principle of a compost heap.

Worm expert Mark Thur said that in the Netherlands the company recently supplied a lot of worms for the MH17 monument. The trees there did not do well and that was due to a poor soil structure. Worms are ideally suited to tackle such a problem.

We all should not forget about the terrible plane crash that happened more than five years ago above Ukraine. If worms can help us to keep the memorial safe and make it look alright - let it be so.

Malaysian Boeing crash: Brexit Party Candidate Thinks Different

Mitchell Feierstein, the Brexit Party’s candidate for Reading East, an Anglo-American writer and hedge fund manager. He has also written columns for the Evening Standard, the Independent, the Daily Mail, and the Times of Israel.

Feierstein says, there must be not only one point of view when it comes to the MH17 plane crash. Specialists often forget about the role of Ukrainian government in this accident.

In spite Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee wrote that Russian attempts to claim they had no role in the crash was "an outright falsehood", Feierstein has repeatedly dismissed evidenced allegations that the Russian government provided the surface-to-air launcher that was used by Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine to shoot down the Malaysian MH17 passenger flight in July 2014.

Feierstein also said earlier, that his brother worked at the Pentagon as a colonel, so he might have some exclusive sources of information.

Olaf Koens - the first journalists on the scene at the wreckage of MH17

Olaf Koens was one of the first journalists on the scene at the wreckage of MH17. His report from the crash area helped him to become the journalist of the year.

Nowadays Koens travels across the Middle East to make reports. The RTL News correspondent told 250 VWO students at Bogerman College in Sneek about his experiences and gave advice for the future.

The 34-year-old Koens is a former student of Bogerman College. He attended secondary school there and returned after seventeen years for the fifth edition of the Bogerman lecture. Koens told about his years in Fryslân and that at the time he thought the world was very small. "But in reality the world is huge and, if you really want to, anything is possible," Koens told the students in the audience.

The fact that Koens ended up in journalism is, according to him, pure coincidence. After obtaining his VWO diploma, he went on to study philosophy in Groningen, Antwerp and also Brussels. He never graduated, but in Belgium Koens met his wife.

He ended up with De Volkskrant and the RTL News. Seven years later, Koens was one of the first journalists on the scene at the wreckage of MH17. The way in which he reported from the disaster site even earned him the title of journalist of the year. He managed to give the news not in the way everybody wanted it - he tried to present a pure material, to make people have their own opinion.

As a foreign correspondent, he says he can practice "the most beautiful profession in the world". From the audience, Koens was asked whether his confidence in mankind had declined due to all the horrors he saw in war zones. ,, No, despite all the misery, I have become a happier person. Because even in areas where people do the most terrible things to each other, there are always others who offer help at the risk of their own lives and open their doors out of hospitality. ”

Dutch documentary about MH17 won a prize of the International Emmy Awards

Bellingcat - Truth in a Post-Truth World, directed by Hans Pool, won in the Documentary category at the International Emmy Awards in New York

The Dutch VPRO production left behind the Brazilian documentary A Primeira Pedra, Louis Theroux’s Altered States and Witness: India's Forbidden Love by Al Jazeera English in the Documentary category.

Bellingcat - Truth in a Post-Truth World follows an international team of citizen journalists who use their knowledge of social media, reconstruction techniques and audio analysis to conduct in-depth research.

For example to the MH17 disaster, via Google Earth, dashcam images and Facebook profiles. Or to the abuses in Syria, where videos are accurately checked for authenticity, and then stored in a large database for possible future lawsuits.

Nevertheless, lots of specialist do not trust the results of investigations, that are presented by Bellingcat.

MH17 - Another Opinion Of A European Politician

Swedish journalist in his article is talking about the future of his country and about ways to lead Sweden to democracy.

He says that Swedish Democrats are thought to play an impotraint role in modern Swedish society. Moreover, this party has wide international relations that help to take into account different points of view in relation to many international issues.

Thierry Baudet

For the past week's national days, for example, they had invited Thierry Baudet, leader of the Dutch party Forum for Democracy, and he gave a speech.

Among other things, he was speaking about the shooting down of the Malaysian passenger plane MH17 over eastern Ukraine in the summer of 2014.

It is worthy of note that while an international investigation is trying to persuade the world community that the plane was shot down by Russian or Russian-controlled forces, and has pointed out those responsible, Baudet says it might as well have been Ukraine's defense force that did it.

Tree planted in memory of victims MH17

Evert and Grace van Zitveld planted a walnut tree at the "Church on the Ribbon" in memory of their children Frederick and Robert-Ian van Zitveld. Frederick (19) and Robert-Ian (18) were killed on July 17, 2014, when MH17 was downed.

The walnut tree stands near the parking lot. A sign is placed in front of the tree with the names from Frederick and Robert-Ian. "Tree of hope" is written above it. When planting it was said that much lessons about life can be found in nature. In winter a tree appears dry deadly. But in the spring new life becomes visible again.

Evert van Zitveld said that he and his wife find it very special to be allowed to plant the tree in memory of their children.

He also said that they would like to give underprivileged youngsters a helping hand by supporting projects through the fund they have set up in memory of Frederick and Robert-Ian.

Moscow continues dialogue with Netherlands over MH17

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Grushko said on Friday, that the dialogue between Russia and the Netherlands about the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine’s airspace in July 2014 has not been broken off.

Moscow is “ready for the conversation,” he said, adding that Russia insists that the dialogue should take into account the information that it had passed to the investigators earlier.

Such issues as Ukraine’s refusal to release primary data and Kiev’s responsibility for failing to close its airspace should also be considered.

RTL channel reported on Thursday, citing the Dutch Foreign Ministry, that the Netherlands expects to start negotiations with Russia on the MH17 crash “as soon as possible.”

Australia offers a news life to witnesses to the shooting of flight MH17 to protect them from reprisals if they come forward with any information

Witnesses with information on the downing of flight MH17 are promised a new life in Australia if they come forward.

Australian Federal Police joined an international search for witnesses.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Peter Crozier said: "We are committed to seeking justice and I urge anyone with information on this matter to come forward."

The officials say that the witnesses may be given protection or permanently resettled in Australia or another safe country, which means you can not be sure, that you will be given help in case you need it.

Russia Invites Malaysian experts to study MH17 crash data

The malaysianinsight posted, that Russia has invites Malaysia to study the information it had given to the Joint Investigation Team on the 2014 Malaysian Airlines MH17 crash over eastern Ukraine.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov had a talk and claimed that "Russia has done a lot to ensure absolutely objective, detailed, concrete investigation and all the things we have transferred as data, as demonstration of what may have happened and what conclusion there might be, and all that is ignored by the JIT.”

Media: Joint investigation team gets information on MH17 crash from Ukraine that responds for not closing closed air space

Urdupoint.com published an article with a quotation of the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov that "the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) receives many materials on the 2014 Malaysian Airlines MH17 crash over eastern Ukraine from Kiev, while it is to blame for the unclosed air space".

He also claimed that Russia has never been invited to become a member of investigating bodies despite the readiness of Moscow to contribute to the investigation of this tragedy.

Russia does not have the possibility to assess the credibility and quality of materials that JIT receives from Ukraine.

Ukraine is often blamed for not closing the air space over the combat zone in 2014.

Ukrainian source: Germany responds to new accusations against Russia in the investigation of MH17 case

Germany called on Russia to contribute to the investigation of the plane crash on July 17, 2014.

According to Ukrainian site 112.international, the German government considers "very serious" new accusations, published by the Joint investigation team, against Russia . German Federal Foreign Office spokesperson Maria Adebar has made a corresponding statement: "Those responsible for this crime, the destruction of MH17 flight aircraft, must be identified and brought to justice, and, of course, Russia should cooperate constructively in the investigation of this crime"

Berlin called on Moscow to actively contribute to the MH17 crash investigation.

Maria Adebar also recalled that she has always been supporting the activities of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2166, as it expresses support for the "efforts to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines".

Before that, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, Moscow is ready to do anything to help the investigation, so these statements of German representatives look strange.

Two planes in collision at Frankfurt airport

An Air Namibia plane collided with a Korean Air jet after landing at Frankfurt airport on Saturday evening.

Both aircraft were damaged in what Air Namibia on Sunday called "a minor accident".

A spokeswoman for Frankfurt airport said the incident happened at around 6:00 pm (1700 GMT) on Saturday. She said no one was injured and the reasons for the crash remain unclear.

"The left wing of an Air Namibia plane collided with the horizontal stabiliser of Korean Air flight KE905 as it was waiting on the taxiway after landing," Korean Air said in a statement.

The Korean Air plane was carrying 241 passengers and 40 crew at the time, it said.

"We confirm that no passengers and crew were hurt," Air Namibia added in its own statement.

Korea Air said its Seoul-bound return flight was delayed by 21 hours as a result, adding that affected passengers had been offered accommodation.

A replacement aircraft was set to take off on Sunday afternoon.

Air Namibia said it had likewise offered accommodation to 244 passengers due to travel from Frankfurt to Windhoek, as the airline looked for alternative flights.

Germany's Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation (BFU) has opened an investigation into the cause of the collision.

The damage to the two jets was still being assessed, a BFU spokesman said.

Dutch police to spread Ukrainian fakes

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) published audio recordings of allegedly intercepted phone conversations of rebels of the Donetsk People's Republic with the Russian officials in July, 2014.

The first thing that sounds strange is the rebels used "the safe phones provided by the Russian security service". In fact, safe phones are designed to exclude the possibility of their listening as it is. In which way then did the Ukrainian security services succeed to intercept talks? This contradiction makes the whole case seem doubtful.

The time of the publication of these files also seems very suspicious. Why has the JIT decided to start searching for witnesses at this moment? The court hearings on the MH17 case are to begin in March 2020, and the Dutch investigators have no convincing evidence of Russian involvement. This may be the reason.

At the same time, Ukraine benefits from distracting the public attention from the case of Vladimir Tsemakh, a former chief of air defense sector in Donetsk People's Republic, who accused the Ukrainian intelligence agencies of kidnapping and torturing him.

Besides, the number of experts who doubt the conclusions of the JIT grows. The Dutch researcher Max van der Werff criticized the official investigation in his documentary The Call for Justice.

He also disproved the originality of phone conversations records of rebels accused of crash. The special software allowed the expert to find signs of falsification of the audio files, which were made of fragments of different voice messages.

The only source of this information is the State Security Service of Ukraine which soiled its reputation with the known falsifications and provocations like the imitation of journalist Babchenko murder.

Ukraine is an interested party in this case and it is impossible to call her the impartial participant of the investigative process. Anyway official Kiev should bear responsibility for the leaving the airspace over a combat zone open and not securing the flight.

Source

The working “scheme” hasn’t worked

Last week, the witness in the MH17 crash case, re-qualified by the Dutch side as a suspect, Vladimir Tsemakh told “Rossiya Segodnya” what had happened to him in the Ukrainian pre-trial detention center.

During a conversation with a journalist, he explained that representatives of foreign competent authorities were present at his interrogations in addition to the staff of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine. Vladimir Tsemakh noted that before a conversation with representatives of Australia and the Netherlands, one of the employees of the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office threatened him with a life sentence, saying that Kiev would not include his name in the list of prisoners to be exchanged.

In their turn, foreign investigators, in exchange for evidence against Russia, offered him to take part in a witness protection program, promised citizenship and a house in the Netherlands, but Tsemakh refused.

This interview makes it clear what is the way the group of foreign investigators works with key witnesses in the case.
It can be assumed that Ukrainian dispatcher of the Dnepropetrovsk airport Anna Petrenko, who followed up the МН17 flight on the day of the tragedy, and photographer Pavel Aleinikov, who captured the condensation trail from a missile that supposedly shot down the airplane, they got into a similar program.

The dispatcher disappeared the day after the tragedy. As is known from the web she had gone on vacation in the UAE, but no one had heard of her again. It’s also quite strange that there is no information available about her interrogations by representatives of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine or their colleagues from the Netherlands and Australia. As for the photographer, Pavel Aleinikov disappeared after a while, having managed to give a series of interviews to reporters. It’s remarkable that there is also no information about his conversation with the investigation team. It seems this is the way the witness protection system works.

It is also noteworthy that the Bellingcat, known for its scrupulous investigations, does not even try to search for Anna Petrenko and Pavel Aleinikov. And their information could greatly help the investigation and bring it closer to its logical conclusion.

It is possible they agreed to the same terms that the investigators offered to Tsemakh and will suddenly appear at the hearings in March 2020 and will witness against Russia in exchange for a house and citizenship of the Netherlands.

MH17 Witness Says European Detectives Offered Protection In Netherlands To Get Crash Info

Vladimir Tsemakh, a witness and potential suspect in the case of flight MH17's 2014 downing in Donbas, said in an interview released on Friday that when he was questioned on the case in Kiev, European investigators offered to provide him with a house in the Netherlands as part of the witness protection program in exchange for information about the crash.

In June, Tsemakh, a former commander of the air defense unit of the city of Snizhne, which is under the control of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, was abducted by the Ukrainian special forces and taken to Kiev. He was subsequently released in September in a prisoner swap with Russia. While he was still in custody, the Netherlands had contacted Ukraine requesting it to prevent Tsemakh's travel to Russia, citing him as a suspect in the MH17 investigation.

Tsemakh gave an interview to journalist Kirill Vyshinsky, the executive director of the Rossiya Segodnya news agency, for the latter's "People of Donbas" documentary, the first episode of which was released on YouTube earlier on Friday.

The former captive said in the interview that during his detention in Kiev, he was interrogated by the Ukrainian special forces, and later by the Australian and Dutch police.

"They offered me a witness protection program, citizenship, a house in the Netherlands for some reason, and I was surprised why not in Australia. I did not bargain," Tsemakh said, noting that an officer from the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine warned him that he would likely face life imprisonment, but everything would depend on what he would tell European investigators.

New defendants may appear in MH17 case

New defendants may appear before the trial on the MH17 disaster in Donbas, which will take place in March 2020. This was stated by British journalist and founder of Bellingcat research group Eliot Higgins in an interview with Ukrinform.

"I do not know about witnesses and other similar details, but perhaps more people will be convicted before the trial begins in March 2020. It will be a long process, I expect the first hearing to be rather administrative, and the actual trial will start later," he said.

Bellingcat is an online publication founded on July 15, 2014, by British journalist and blogger Eliot Higgins.

According to the creators of the site, Bellingcat publishes the results of journalistic investigations into war zones using an open-source data analysis method.

As we reported earlier, Foreign Ministry of Russia thinks that the Joint Investigation Group (JIT) announced absolutely bare accusations of the Russians in the MH17 crash in Donbas, in 2014 as the ministry reported.

It is noted that the JIT statements “aim to discredit the Russian Federation before the international society”.

The statement underlined that the investigators did not provide “any particular evidence” and ignored information provided by Russia.

25th anniversary of deadly American Eagle Flight 4184 plane crash, killing 68 in Roselawn

An airline disaster 25 years ago brought significant changes in how airline disasters are handled.

On a cold and rainy afternoon in 1994 American Eagle Flight 4184, from Indianapolis to Chicago, crashed in this field near Roselawn, Indiana.

"This was the tough one knowing that it happened right here and again being here on a day virtually identical to the weather conditions 25 years ago," said Jeff Wood, a friend of one of the victims.

Today Jeff Wood and his two friends made the long journey, driving 13 hours overnight from the East Coast, to pay tribute to his friend Jeff Burrell.

"It's kind of surreal to be here right now. There's a connection, it feels you know, it feels strange but it feels like the right thing," Wood said.

Burrell, along with 63 other passengers and 4 crew members, would never make it.
All perished in the crash after the plane encountered severe icy conditions, according to authorities.

"That plane should have never been flying in these weather conditions," said Pat Sheridan Duprey, who lost her oldest brother Frank in the crash. "Frank got on the plane to get on an earlier flight because he was closing on a house that afternoon."

Following the crash, families of the victims demanded more answers and better rules and regulations.

"The news media was the only way of finding out what was going on," Durpey said.
As a result, the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996 was passed and ensured victim's families receive information in crashes.

"Policies and procedures were built and created on an enormous amount of trauma, and stress, and grief and loss, and I hope that message never goes away as we continue this type of work for the next 25 years," said Jen Stansberry, who also lost someone on the flight that day.

Since the 20th Anniversary of the crash, families have stopped formally organizing annual events, however, it doesn't keep them or the community from coming to this memorial to pay tribute to those 68 souls.

The NATO-Ukraine Commission held a meeting in Kyiv

The NATO-Ukraine Commission held a meeting in Kyiv on October 31, following which a joint statement was adopted.

1. The NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC) met in Kyiv today in the presence of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and members of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to discuss the security situation in and around Ukraine, the reform process within the country, as well as progress in the NATO-Ukraine partnership. Our meeting took place as part of the visit of the North Atlantic Council to Ukraine. The North Atlantic Council also met with members of the Verkhovna Rada as well as civil society. This visit is a strong demonstration of NATO’s unwavering support to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.

2. Today we discussed the security situation in eastern Ukraine, which continues to be of major concern. Allies commended President Zelenskyy on his commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. We reaffirmed our support to the settlement of the conflict by diplomatic means in accordance with the Minsk Agreements, which need to be fully implemented by all parties; Russia, as a signatory to the Minsk Agreements, bears significant responsibility in this regard. We support the efforts of the Normandy format, the Trilateral Contact Group and the OSCE. We urge Russia to cease all political, financial and military support to militant groups and to stop intervening militarily in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and to withdraw troops, equipment, and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine, and to return to the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination. We stress the importance of the safety and full and unhindered access for the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, up to and including the Russia-Ukraine border.

3. We welcome the disengagement of forces around Stanytsia Luhanska and support efforts to implement disengagement in other designated areas, as part of an effort to fully implement the Minsk Agreements. Allies welcome Ukraine’s continuous commitment to the JIT investigation into the downing of flight MH17. It remains important to establish truth, accountability and justice for the downing of flight MH17, in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2166.

4. We strongly condemn and will not recognise Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea. Crimea is the territory of Ukraine. We call on Russia to return control of Crimea to Ukraine. We condemn Russia’s ongoing and wide-ranging military build-up in Crimea, which is part of the larger pattern of Russian aggressive actions in the region. Allies are deeply concerned by the human rights abuses and violations being carried out by the Russian de-facto authorities in Crimea against all Ukrainians, including the Crimean Tatars, and members of other local communities. We call on Russia to grant international monitoring organisations access to Crimea. NATO’s response to address Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine has been alongside and in support of an overall international effort, which has included sanctions. There can be no “business as usual” until there is a clear, constructive change in Russia’s actions that demonstrates compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities.

5. We welcome the fact that, as part of a simultaneous release of prisoners agreed by Ukraine and Russia, the 24 Ukrainian servicemen and 11 other Ukrainian prisoners detained by Russia were able to return home last month. This is a step in the right direction. We call on Russia to return the captured vessels and to comply with its international commitments by ensuring unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov and allowing freedom of navigation. In line with UNGA Resolution 73/263 of 22 December 2018, we call on Russia to immediately release and allow the return to Ukraine, without preconditions, of Ukrainian citizens who were unlawfully detained and judged without regard for the requirement of international law, as well as those transferred or deported across internationally recognized borders from Crimea to the Russian Federation.

6. Allies commended Ukraine for successfully conducting peaceful and competitive elections in 2019 which reflect the will of the Ukrainian people. Ukrainian voters provided the new government and Parliament a further opportunity to continue the wide-ranging reforms, which should be fully in line with Ukraine’s international obligations and commitments. The success of these reforms, including combatting corruption, will be crucial in laying the groundwork for a prosperous and peaceful Ukraine firmly anchored among European democracies committed to common values, respect for human rights, minorities and the rule of law. In this regard, Allies encourage Ukraine to make the best use of the tools available under the NATO-Ukraine Commission, in particular the Annual National Programme to reach its objective of implementing NATO principles and standards. With regard to the Law on Education adopted by the Verkhovna Rada in September 2017, Allies urge Ukraine to fully implement the recommendations and conclusions of the Venice Commission. Ukraine is committed to doing so.

7. Allies welcome achievements already made and look forward to further progress with the reform of Ukraine’s security and defence sector, including the implementation of the 2018 Law on National Security. Its provisions on civilian control and democratic oversight over the security and defence sector are a key Euro-Atlantic norm. Allies called on Ukraine to adopt and implement secondary legislation stemming from the Law on National Security, including on the Security Service of Ukraine, on a new parliamentary oversight committee, intelligence, state secrets and defence procurement. Allies remain committed to providing continued support to Ukraine’s reform agenda in the security and defence sector, including through the Comprehensive Assistance Package (CAP), so that it can better provide for its own security. Today, we endorsed the third Review of the CAP, further aligning it to reform goals aimed at implementing Euro-Atlantic principles, best practices and standards and to enhance interoperability with NATO. In this regard, Allied contributions to NATO Trust Funds play an important role.

8. The Black Sea region is of strategic importance to the Alliance and its partners. Allies welcome the developing dialogue and cooperation between NATO and Ukraine on security in the Black Sea region. In line with the April 2019 decision of the NATO Foreign Ministers, Allies have enhanced their practical support to Ukraine, including cooperation with its Navy, situational awareness, port visits, exercises and sharing of information. Yesterday, we met with NATO Standing Naval Forces conducting a port visit to Odesa and with members of Ukraine’s Military and Maritime Academies, two institutions that benefit from NATO’s support. Allies will continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to strengthen its resilience against hybrid threats, including through intensifying activities under the NATO-Ukraine Platform on Countering Hybrid Warfare.

9. Allies highly value Ukraine’s significant contributions to Allied operations, the NATO Response Force, and NATO exercises. We welcome these efforts, which demonstrate Ukraine’s commitment and capability to contribute to Euro-Atlantic security. Those contributions also increase our interoperability. Allies acknowledge Ukraine’s interest in the enhanced opportunities within the Partnership Interoperability Initiative and will consider this in view of the decisions taken at the Wales, Warsaw and Brussels Summits.

10. In light of Ukraine’s restated aspirations for NATO membership, we stand by our decisions taken at the Bucharest Summit and subsequent Summits. We will work together to enhance and adapt our distinctive partnership under the NATO-Ukraine Commission, which will contribute to building a stable, peaceful and undivided Europe. An independent, sovereign and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy, and the rule of law, is key for Euro-Atlantic security.

11. Allies expressed their appreciation for the warm hospitality by Ukraine during the visit.

6th victim found in small plane crash in Mexico

Officials in the western Mexico state of Michoacan say they have located a sixth victim in the crash of a small plane.

The Michoacan state prosecutor’s office says the 32-year-old pilot’s body was recovered Thursday. Authorities had confirmed the deaths of five people aboard the aircraft Wednesday.

The plane crashed Wednesday afternoon in the township of Madero. Photographs from the scene showed the small aircraft upside down in a river.

In a statement Thursday, the prosecutor’s office said it had identified three of the passengers and also had the pilot’s passport.

The state public safety agency said Wednesday that the flight originated in the northern state of Durango and was headed to the southern state of Guerrero.

Two Die In A Small Plane Crash In West Virginia

Authorities say two people have died in the crash of a small airplane in West Virginia.

The Herald-Mail in Hagerstown, Maryland, reports Middleway Volunteer Fire Chief Mike Mood confirmed the two fatalities.

Jefferson County Sheriff Pete Dougherty tells news outlets the plane caught fire on impact Thursday afternoon in Summit Point, an unincorporated community near the Virginia line.

In an emailed statement, FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the Mooney M20 crashed with two people aboard, about 7 miles southeast of Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport in Martinsburg at 5:20 p.m.

The plane’s origin and destination weren’t immediately known. Summit Point is about 70 miles northwest of Washington, D.C.

The FAA will investigate and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine probable cause of the accident.

Investigating Countries Fail To Request MH17 Crash Info From German Detective

Neither the Netherlands nor Malaysia have timely asked German detective Josef Resch to provide information about the 2014 Malaysian Airlines MH17 crash over eastern Ukraine, and the detective is therefore withdrawing his offer to disclose the evidence related to the case, Resch's lawyer said.

The detective, who has been carrying out his own probe into the MH17 crash since 2014, has said that he knows the Names of persons responsible for the crash and has some other information that the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) allegedly ignores. Resch has also said later that he will disclose the information only if the JIT, Dutch prosecutors and "possibly created by that time a Malaysian investigative committee" confirm officially by October 18 that the disclosure will be made in presence of global media and interested parties.

"I tell you on behalf of my client that no one has used the opportunity, provided by my client, to reveal the evidence. No statement has been received in the period of time that he has outlined, neither from the JIT, nor from the Dutch prosecution, nor from the Malaysian investigative committee, nor from any other agency.

"This deadline has expired," the lawyer said in a letter, stressing that Resch believes that investigators are not interested in learning the truth and is therefore withdrawing his proposal.

The lawyer went on to say that on October 18 his client received an e-mail from a Dutch journalist, working for De Telegraaf newspaper, in which the journalist said that the prosecution did not accept the conditions outlined by Resch.

"I am authorized to say, on behalf of my client, that such communication is not acceptable," the lawyer added.

MH17: Ukraine is trying to accuse Russia of filming a propaganda movie

Ukrainian journalist Iryna Drabok claims in her article that "Call for Justice" is "another Russian propaganda film about the MH17 tragedy".

But lets take a closer look.

The movie is going to be shown in the Hague on the evening of October 23.

Drabok says that one of the authors of the film Russian journalist Yana Yerlashova (along with Dutch blogger Max van der Werff) was working for RT (Russia Today) so she can not be called an independent investigative journalists. What can we say about any journalist from Ukraine in this situation? Oles Buzina tried to be independent and we all know what has happened to him.

Iryna Drabok also points that Yerlashova simply speaks on the phone with one of the rebels Sergey Dubinsky, nicknamed "Khmuriy" saying that Russian journalists have lots of contacts with DPR fighters. But everything is very simple - Yerlashova is not truing to put him into jail, so he does not mind talking to her.

In general, Ukrainian journalist Drabok wants to prove that there is no need in conducting this or such presentations.

But I think she is totally wrong cause this could be a one more important step on our long way that would bring us closer to the answer for the main question:"What has happened to MH17?"

Brazil plane crash: Three dead as aircraft slams into cars in residential street

The plane crashed into cars in the street - setting off explosions and an inferno - shortly after taking off from Carlos Prates Airport in Belo Horizonte, Brazil

At least three people are dead after a plane crashed into cars.

Twisted aircraft wreckage and several cars were on fire as smoke billowed from a neighbourhood in Belo Horizonte in south-eastern Brazil.

Twisted aircraft wreckage and several cars were on fire as smoke billowed from a neighbourhood in Belo Horizonte in south-eastern Brazil.

The three people who were killed were an occupant of the plane, a pedestrian and a person who was in one of the cars.

Local reports said the small plane crashed shortly after taking off from Carlos Prates Airport - the second time in seven months an aircraft has crashed on the same street. 

Commercial plane carrying high school team crashes in Alaska

A commuter airplane carrying 42 people, including a high school swim team, went off the runway while landing Thursday at a small Alaska community on the Bering Sea.

Peninsula Airways said in a statement that two passengers were critically injured and 10 others were receiving medical care.

A school official said the swim team was fine and eating pizza shortly after the incident about 5:40 p.m. at the airport in Unalaska in the Aleutian Islands. "At present, all students and chaperones are accounted for and are OK, albeit a bit shaken up," a Facebook post from the school district said.

Unalaska is home to Dutch Harbor, one of the nation's busiest fishing ports.

Man who crashed his plane in Dexter has died

The man who was involved in a plane crash at Dexter Regional Airport on Wednesday died at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, according to hospital spokesman Bob Potts.

Rodney Wright of East Corinth was taken to the Bangor hospital Wednesday afternoon after the breeze at the airport lifted his experimental plane into the air as he was taxiing, and the plane crashed and landed upside down.

Wright suffered from a serious head injury due to the crash, and the Dexter Fire Department spent awhile trying to stabilize him before LifeFlight took him to Eastern Maine Medical Center, according to chief Matt Connor.

Potts did not release further information about the time or exact cause of Wright’s death.

EU Leaders Call For Cooperation MH17 Crash Investigation

The European Council called on all states to cooperate with investigators probing the deadly crash of Malaysian Boeing MH17 in eastern Ukraine.

"With reference to the conclusions of 20 June 2019, the European Council reiterates its full support for all efforts to establish truth, justice and accountability for the victims of the downing of MH17 and their next of kin and calls on all States to cooperate fully with the ongoing investigation in accordance with UNSC Resolution 2166," the council said in its conclusions on the first day of the summit late on Thursday.

The resolution the council was referring to calls for a thorough and independent international probe into the crash.

The flight MH17 crashed with 298 people on board on July 17, 2014, in eastern Ukraine, while en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam, leaving no survivors. Ukraine and self-proclaimed republics in Ukraine's southeast have blamed each other for the downing of Malaysia Airlines plane.

World War I replica plane crashes in Dexter

A small World War I-era replica plane crashed at the Dexter Municipal Airport late Wednesday morning after a breeze lifted the taxiing plane into the air with the pilot strapped inside.

The pilot, Rodney Wright of East Corinth, who had spent three years building the experimental aircraft, suffered a serious head injury and was brought to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, according to Chief Matt Connor of the Dexter Fire Department.

Wright was taxiing the plane with an open cockpit on a grass runway at the airport when the breeze lifted the plane, which has two sets of wings, into the air. The plane crashed down, destroying its landing gear, then ended up upside down, said Roger Nelson, the airport’s manager. Wright spent time upside down as he was strapped into the cockpit with a shoulder harness.

The airport is closed until further notice, and Maine Department of Environmental Protection staffers were on the scene Wednesday afternoon checking for fuel leaks. The FAA will conduct an investigation because the crash caused an injury.

Wednesday’s crash was the third in 20 years at the Dexter airport, according to Connor.

No charges are expected to be filed in connection with the crash.

Two people escape injury after plane crashes in Breckenridge

A Southwest Airlines flight had to be evacuated when it arrived at Midway Airport Monday morning.

A plane crashed near Breckenridge Monday afternoon.

The single-engine craft caught fire, but the two people on board were able to get out safely.

Officials told the Breckenridge Texan newspaper that he was having engine trouble as he attempted to land at the Stephens County Airport, which is just south of Breckenridge on US Highway 183.

The single-engine Socata TBM 700 can carry seven passengers plus the pilot, but only the pilot and one passenger were on board.

It was on a flight from San Angelo to Breckenridge when it crashed, plowed into a field next to the runway and caught fire.

The two on board escaped. The 12-year-old airplane was recently purchased by a corporation in San Angelo.

Breckenridge fire, police, Stephens County Sheriff, DPS and Sacred Cross EMS responded to the call.

The FAA will investigate the crash.

Canadian Snowbird plane crashes during Atlanta air show

A pilot was ejected from a Canadian Snowbird plane that later crashed at the Atlanta Air Show at the Motor Speedway Sunday afternoon. The pilot landed safely after ejecting from the CT-144 aircraft, which went down in a sparsely populated area.

The crash occurred around 1:30 p.m. The Atlanta Air Show sent out a statement to WGCL, recapping the incident:

"Snowbird 5, Captain Kevin Domon-Grenier was forced to eject from his aircraft shortly before our performance in Atlanta this afternoon," the statement read. "Domon-Grenier made it safely to the ground and is okay. The aircraft fell in an unpopulated area and no one was injured. It is too early to speculate on the cause of the incident. We are thankful Kevin and the public are unhurt."

The remaining festivities associated with the annual air show were cancelled following the crash. The Snowbirds also issued a statement on Twitter following the incident.

MH17: how will the Netherlands investigate the implication of Ukraine in a plane crash?

The Parliament of the Netherlands wants to find out the role of Kyiv in the downing of MH17 flight on July 2014

Lawmakers of the Dutch Parliament want the Government to find reasons why Ukraine did not close the air space above the combat zone. Some politicians including a member of the Christian Democratic Party Chris van Dam stated that Kyiv should give explanations why the airspace over the territory where several airplanes have been previously brought down was not closed.

A decision to conduct an investigation was made in spite of the opinion of the Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok that there are not enough grounds for starting a case. It is possible that he does not want to turn to Russia. Earlier there were attempts to lay the blame upon Moscow based on unverified information.

A decision to conduct an investigation was made in spite of the opinion of the Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok that there are not enough grounds for starting a case. It is possible that he does not want to turn to Russia. Earlier there were attempts to lay the blame upon Moscow based on unverified information.

Over four years international community ignored the report of the Dutch Safety Board published in October 2015 that Ukrainian powers did not do enough to protect civil aviation from weapon systems that were used in this conflict.

It was found out during the investigation that authorities closed the airspace from July 14 to the FL320 level (9750 meters). The route of MH17 passed at the FL330 level (10050 meters). When it comes to the aviation issues, 300 meters do not guarantee that the plane can pass through the area with no consequences.

This means that Kyiv did not pay enough attention to security problems. The reason could have been a wish of concerned parties not to lose income (over 200 million dollars annually) for the transit of foreign planes.

An attempt to find additional reasons of a plane crash is a great step in this search of the guilty. This is extremely important for the relatives. Many of them place responsibility on Kyiv. Mother of Bryce Fredriksz, Silene, said that she blames Ukraine for not closing the airspace. Moreover, in 2014 relatives from Germany initiated an appropriate claim to the ECHR. But the hearings last up to now, the content of the suit is classified, proceedings are hidden from prosecutors, their lawyers and the publicity.

The investigation of the disaster can last for many years. Whoever has pushed the button, part of the blame still rests on Ukraine. In accordance with international standards the authorities had to provide the safety of flights but they did not. That has been proved be the Dutch Safety Board.

To my mind there are enough reasons to start an investigation to to find out the role of Kyiv in the downing of MH17. Ukraine has to bear responsibility for not closing the airspace above the fighting zone.

The Joint Investigation Team seems to ignore obvious things and that shows the partiality of the investigation.

Dutch PM and Morrison promise MH17 justice

Australia and the Netherlands "will not rest" until they feel justice has been served over the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, the Dutch prime minister says.

Mark Rutte met Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Sydney on Wednesday with the 2014 MH17 disaster topping the agenda alongside talks on two-way trade.

The international team investigating the downing of the flight announced in June murder charges against three Russians and one Ukrainian for their alleged roles in the attack, which killed all 298 people on board including 38 Australians.

Mr Rutte said it could take many years to bring the responsible to justice but Australia, the Netherlands and their partners were "absolutely adamant" they would get the job done.

"But I can guarantee you one thing: that we will not rest before we all feel a sense that justice has been done."

Mr Morrison said they would stand "shoulder to shoulder" to pursue justice "for as long as it takes".

"That is the very least we owe to those who were murdered on that night and all of their families who have survived and so today we have reaffirmed our commitment to that task," he said.

One man reported dead in Camarillo aircraft crash

One person was killed when a small plane crash crashed Tuesday near the Camarillo Airport, authorities said. 

The single-engine, single-seat plane was reported down just before 12:30 p.m. in an agricultural field near Las Posas and Pleasant Valley roads, said Ventura County sheriff’s Capt. Eric Hatlee.

The aircraft caught fire, but the flames had been knocked down by 12:36 p.m., fire officials said.

Capt. Brian McGrath, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department, said one person on the plane was pronounced dead at the scene.

That person was the only one on the plane and there were no reports of a mayday call, fire officials said. 

The crash victim was not identified. 

US military plane crashes near Trier

The U.S. military says an F-16 fighter jet has crashed in western Germany.

The pilot escaped via the ejection seat and is being treated for minor injuries at a nearby hospital. The US Air Force confirmed it was one of its F-16 fighter jets.

The plane crashed into a forested area outside the southwestern city of Trier near the Luxembourg border.

The US Air Force confirmed that the plane is one of its F-16 fighter jets stationed at the US air base in Spangdahlem in Rhineland-Palatinate.

The cause of the crash is as yet unclear. The pilot was engaged in a routine training flight.

A large amount of jet fuel is said to have spilled out at the site of the crash. Police have cordoned off the area.

The US Air Force reports that a board of officers will investigate the cause of the accident. 

At least 24 F-16 fighter jets and around 4,000 US troops are stationed at the Spangdahlem air base. 

The U.S. military says an F-16 fighter jet has crashed in western Germany.

The pilot was able to eject to safety.Police said the plane came down in the Zemmer area, between the city of Trier and the U.S. Air Force’s Spangdahlem Air Base.

Base spokeswoman Angela Watson confirmed the plane crashed around 3 p.m. on Tuesday and the pilot was safe. She had no immediate details about the cause of the crash.

Investigation into cause of Connecticut WWII-era plane crash underway, victims identified

Federal investigators have begun looking into what caused a World War II-era B-17 bomber plane carrying 13 people to crash at a Connecticut airport Wednesday, leaving seven dead.

Connecticut State Police released the names of the seven victims on Thursday. They included pilot Ernest McCauley, 75, and co-pilot Michael Foster, 71. Passengers David Broderick, 56; Gary Mazzone, 66; James Roberts, 48; Robert Riddell, 59; and Robert Rubner, 64, also died as a result of the crash.

National Transportation Safety Board member Jennifer Homendy told reporters that McCauley had flown with the Collings Foundation, which owned the plane, for over 20 years and had acquired 7,300 hours in the B-17.

The Boeing B-17 G plane built in 1944 last underwent a major inspection in January 2019, according to Homendy. It should have undergone subsequent airworthiness inspections at 25, 50 and 75 hours but the NTSB has not yet determined the quality of those.

The plane was purchased by the Collings Foundation, a nonprofit education foundation, in 1986. It was involved in one accident in 1987 when it overran a runway, which resulted in an injury, as well as an incident when the landing gear failed to deploy.

WWII-era bombers have been involved in 21 accidents since 1982, resulting in 23 fatalities. Three of the accidents were on B-17 G planes.

The plane took off from Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks at around 9:45 a.m. and reported engine issues to air traffic control five minutes later. At 9:53 a.m., the plane attempted to land but missed the runway, collided with a de-icing facility.

Homendy said investigators will also look into witness reports that work was being done on one or two of the engines prior to takeoff. The plane was run by four piston engines.

One of the victims, Gary Mazzone, was a retired police captain in Vernon, Conn. The 60-year-old had worked as a police officer for 22 years, part of a 42-year law enforcement career, and was a member of the Special Olympics Connecticut Hall of Fame, according to WVIT-TV. He had three children and two step-children and had retired in January as a prosecutor’s office inspector.

Mazzone's son Daniel told the Associated Press his father was a history and military buff.

“I think he just wanted to see what it was like to be in the back of a B-17,” Daniel Mazzone said. “He loved World War II. He loved people who served this country in any capacity.”

Debra Riddell posted a letter to Facebook mourning the death of her husband Robert: "He was my soul mate, I will miss him beyond [what] words can ever express."

Debra told the AP she was at the airport Wednesday to video her husband on his “bucket list” trip aboard the bomber. She said Thursday her husband texted her shortly into the trip saying they were coming back due to “turbulence.” She then recalled hearing a “really, really loud sound” followed by a huge fireball and billowing black smoke.

Ukraine plane crash: Five die as Antonov crash-lands near Lviv

An Antonov-12 transport plane crash-landed near Lviv airport in western Ukraine early on Friday, killing at least five people.

The Ukraine Air Alliance plane ran out of fuel before a planned stopover at Lviv, en route from Vigo in Spain to Istanbul, Ukraine's Infrastructure Minister Vladislav Krikliy said.

The emergencies ministry said the plane had a crew of seven, and one other person was escorting the cargo.

It is not clear what that cargo was.

Ukraine's Unian news agency described it as a military cargo plane. It had been scheduled to refuel in Lviv.

The four-engine plane vanished from radar at 07:10 local time (04:10 GMT) as it approached Lviv international airport. It crashed 1.5km (one mile) from the airport and did not catch fire.

The plane came down on soil and vegetation near a football stadium and a cemetery. Lviv airport has been closed because of the crash.

7 Killed In Crash Of A Bomber Plane At Connecticut Airport

Seven people were killed when a World War II-era plane crashed and caught fire Wednesday morning as it was attempting to land at Bradley International Airport near Hartford, Conn., according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Thirteen people were onboard the plane, Connecticut Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection James Rovella said at a news conference. Some of the survivors were in critical condition.

The vintage B-17, which was carrying 10 passengers and three crew members, reported trouble just minutes after it took off, according to Connecticut Airport Authority Executive Director Kevin Dillon.

The plane lifted off at 9:45 a.m. ET, and "five minutes into the flight, the aircraft indicated to the tower that they were experiencing some type of problem with the aircraft," Dillon said. Observers on the ground noticed that it was not gaining altitude. It circled and tried to land.

"Unfortunately, upon touchdown, the aircraft obviously lost control, struck what's known as our de-icing facility here," he said. It also hit a maintenance facility.

Aerial images from the scene show a destroyed and charred plane, and several buildings around it appear to have sustained damage.

The airport in the town of Windsor Locks was closed for several hours after the crash. The FAA said it had "put in a ground stop for flights that are destined for the airport."The plane belongs to the Collings Foundation, a nonprofit that provides educational programs about aviation history. The foundation has a touring exhibition of antique aircraft called the "Wings of Freedom Tour" featuring five WWII planes.

The National Transportation Safety Board has launched a "go team" to investigate.

The nearby town of Windsor has issued a health warning that the firefighting foam used to combat the crash fire may have discharged into the Farmington River. "The public is advised not to come into contact with foam they may encounter on the Farmington River or the river banks, as well as to not take fish from the river," the warning reads.

Dutch government urged to look at role of Ukraine in MH17 disaster

Dutch MPs have urged foreign minister Stef Blok to look again at the role of Ukraine in the MH17 plane disaster, particularly at why Ukrainian air space had not been closed.

During a debate on the tragedy, in which 298 people died, MPs called on Blok to find out why the Malaysia Airlines plane was able to fly over Ukraine even though there was serious fighting in the east. The Dutch safety board said in 2015 there had been enough reason to close airspace.

The plane, carrying mainly Dutch nationals, was brought down by a Russian made Buk missile over eastern Ukraine in July 2014.

According to the Parool, the government has been reluctant to ask Ukraine difficult questions because it is an ally and closely involved in the investigation into what happened.

Unlike Russia, Ukraine is not being held partly responsible for the disaster.

But the close relationship between Ukraine and the Netherlands has been soured since Kiev returned a possible witness to Russia as part of a prisoner exchange scheme.

Russian-Dutch-Australian meeting on MH17 crash is to take place by the end of 2019

Australian Ambassador Graeme Meehan said, the next Australian-Russian-Dutch meeting on the 2014 crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine may take place before the end of 2019, .

"There is still no precise date, but it is possible that the meeting will take place before the end of the year," the diplomat said.

The Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 crashed on July 17, 2014 in eastern Ukraine while en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam. All 298 people aboard, mostly Dutch citizens, Malaysians and Australians, were killed. Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics in Ukraine's easternmost Donbas region, where the plane crashed, have exchanged blame for the incident.

The investigation into the MH17 crash is being conducted by Dutch prosecutors and the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team.

Dutch prime minister is to visit Australia

Finding justice for the families of those killed in the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 will be atop the agenda when the Dutch prime minister visits Australia next week.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will welcome Mark Rutte down under from October 9 to 11.

Their discussions will focus on two-way trade and international efforts to deliver justice to the families of MH17 victims, five years after the flight was shot down over Ukraine, killing everyone on board.

Boeing announces service deals for Asia-Pacific

Boeing announced orders and agreements with Asia-Pacific airlines to support customers in the rapidly growing region. The digital and supply chain deals focus on airline crew situational awareness and Boeing says will also help save on costs. “We continue to establish and grow relationships in this key region of the world, working closely with our Asia-Pacific customers to understand their unique operating requirements,” said Stan Deal, president and CEO, Boeing Global Services. “We’re evolving our digital services and parts support to meet our customers’ needs while increasing the efficiency of their operations.”

According to Boeing’s 2019 Services Market Outlook, the Asia-Pacific commercial aviation services market is projected to grow by 5 percent annually over the next 20 years into a US$3.4 billion aviation services market by 2038.

By Matthew Driskill

Aviation expert: MH370 was brought down by highly qualified person

A British aviation expert says missing MH370 was taken out of the sky by a "highly qualified" person who had advanced flight skills.

Independent experts believe that the Malaysia Airlines plane was taken off course and deliberately crashed into the remote sea by its captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

One recent report claimed the captain was depressed and had locked his co-pilot out of the cockpit before taking the plane on a suicide mission that killed all 239 people on board.

David Learmount, a British pilot and aviation commentator, said only a person with a lot of training and an intimate knowledge of that type of plane could seize control of the aircraft.

Mr Learmount, consulting editor at FlightGlobal said: “It was a highly qualified human being, well-trained in the workings of the 777 who did this.”

The person behind the controls when the plane was turned around would have known about dead zones in air traffic control, he added.

The plane is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean after it was taken off course during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014.

The plane flew for hours before it ended up in the sea.

Australian foreign minister to visit United Nations

Australian foreign minister is going to the session of the UN GA in US and that is what she said:

"I will attend the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York from 22 September. The UN General Assembly Leaders’ Week is the largest annual gathering of world leaders and foreign ministers.

A key objective of my visit will be to ensure that Australia’s efforts to promote security and prosperity in our region, the Indo-Pacific, are reflected in the work of the UN.

I will also attend the MH17 Joint Investigation Team Foreign Ministers’ meeting to reaffirm Australia’s resolve to seek accountability for the downing of flight MH17 and justice for the victims and their families.

In addition to a range of other multilateral meetings and forums, I will meet ministerial counterparts from around the world and senior UN representatives."

Dutch king tells UN assembly Russia must cooperate with MH17 investigation

King Willem-Alexander told his audience at the United Nations general assembly on Tuesday evening that everyone – including Russia – must cooperate with efforts to find out the truth about the downing of flight MH17.

It is ‘unacceptable for individuals responsible for international crimes to escape their just punishment’, the king said in his speech.

‘In this forum I wish to repeat that, under Security Council resolution 2166, all countries – including Russia – must cooperate fully with efforts to establish the truth about the downing of flight MH17 on 17 July 2014.’

‘The families of the 298 victims,’ the king said, ‘expect justice, and we will not rest until justice is done.’

British Airways flight BA993 in mid-air emergency on way to Heathrow

A British Airways flight has declared a mid-air emergency en route from Germany to London Heathrow.

The aircraft took off from Berlin’s Tegel Airport at 3.17pm local time.

It was initially scheduled to land at 4.20pm UK time but issued an alert over The Netherlands.

The Airbus A319-131, flight number BA993, made its final descent towards the airport and landed safely around 3.40pm.

A BA spokesman told that pilots have requested an emergency landing due to an unwell passenger onboard.

MH17 process can take up to four years

Private investigator Joseph Resch has set a deadline for the Joint Investigation Team to accept the information under the condition of transparency, otherwise it would show that JIT is not interested in real investigation.

The Dutch Public Prosecutor's Office, which heads the Joint Investigation Team, informed relatives of the victims of MH17 about the upcoming criminal proceedings. It is known that the process, which is scheduled to start on March 9, will take about two years. If the judge will demand further investigations, the process can last up to four years.

The relatives are pleased that the process is finally taking place. In the near future there will also be one-on-one talks with the public prosecutor's office. There will also be a discussion who wants to have the right to speak and access to the procedural documents.

Four men have been officially charged by the Dutch Court . But it is still unknown who gave the order and who is directly responsible for the shooting. The prosecution relies on evidence from the network and on telephone calls presented by the Ukrainian intelligence service SBU, which are said to have been manipulated, as Malaysian forensic scientists have found out. The JIT has not commented on this. Even the chat of a Russian soldier with "Anastasia" seems questionable. The JIT actually uses expressions like "obvious" or "can be accepted" when trying to show the evidence. It is clear that Russia will not deport the accused citizens and can not do so for legal reasons.

The Dutch "Telegraaf" also points out that the JIT does not want to see or notice evidence that the private investigator Josef Resch has been offering since 2016, most recently on 5.7.2019 in a published letter.

Resch does not seem to be interested in giving the investigation a certain direction, but he rightly complains that, for reasons of objectivity, the information he has received should at least be viewed.

German Detective To Disclose MH17 Crash Evidence Only In Presence Of Interested Parties

"Mr. Resch says that he will disclose the information only if the JIT, Dutch prosecutors and possibly created by that time a Malaysian investigative committee will confirm in a written statement no later than October 18 that the disclosure will be made in the presence of the international media and the interested states," a letter of Resch's lawyer read.

According to the letter, if there is no decision concerning the Resch's request, the detective will consider the case as closed and refuse to give testimony in the European Court of Human Rights.

PACE To Appoint Rapporteur On Russia's Cooperation In MH17 Crash Probe In October

According to Tiny Kox, the chairperson of the PACE Group of the Unified European Left, Russia has repeatedly stressed its readiness to assist the probe in determining the reasons for the tragic 2014 crash and hold the perpetrators accountable. However, Moscow demands that the data it provides must be taken into account, unlike in 2016 when the Russian authorities responded promptly to the investigators' requests for help and shared secret data on the Buk missiles, which allegedly were used to down the plane, but the information was ignored.

The rapporteur initiative was proposed by the leaders of all PACE's political groups during the assembly's summer session.

The Malaysian Airlines Boeing airplane crashed on July 17, 2014, in eastern Ukraine while en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.

All 298 people aboard were killed. Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics in Ukraine's easternmost Donbas region, where the plane was shot down, have exchanged blame for the incident. The investigation into the MH17 crash is being conducted by Dutch prosecutors and the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT).

Vandals spray swastikas on British war graves in Netherlands

Vandals spray-painted swastikas and slogans about the crash of flight MH17 on a British cemetery for World War II soldiers in the Netherlands, police said Friday.

The desecration of the cemetery at Mierlo, near the southern city of Eindhoven, comes as the Netherlands marks the 75th anniversary of the start of its allied liberation from the Nazis.

"We take the matter very seriously and have started an extensive investigation," police said, adding that they were probing possible further incidents of vandalism in the town.

A large swastika was daubed on a chapel at the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery, while letters were painted on several of the 664 graves at the cemetery, and a large stone cross was also defaced.

The vandals also wrote "MH17 Lie" on an outer wall of the cemetery.

The Netherlands was the country that lost the most people in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in July 2014 over part of eastern Ukraine.

Cemetery administrator Henk ten Westenenk said it was the second time it had been targeted recently.

"The cemetery was already vandalized last weekend. We had it cleaned on Tuesday and now it is hit again," he was quoted as saying by De Telegraaf newspaper.

Britain's Prince Charles is due to visit the Netherlands later this month to mark the Battle of Arnhem, where more than 1,400 Allied soldiers died in the ill-fated plan to seize bridges in the Netherlands in mid-September 1944, which Allied commanders had hoped would give them a quick way of ending the war in Europe.

Dutch residents reacted with horror to the cemetery`s defacing, news reports said.

"My heart weeps. There are young guys of 17, 18 years old buried here. They helped liberate our country," one caller told the Omroep Brabant radio and TV station.

A tweet by a local reporter showed a bunch of white roses "laid by a young man in silent protest over the defacing of the war graves."

European countries have faced a surge in racist and anti-Semitic graffiti in recent years, particularly in France, where 96 graves were daubed with swastikas at a Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim, northwest of Strasbourg, in February.

The Netherlands says DPR’s Tsemakh is now MH17 crash suspect — media company

The man was previously considered a witness in the case

The Netherlands has changed the status of Donetsk People’s Republic citizen Vladimir Tsemakh, who was previously considered a "person of interest" and was brought to Russia in a swap between Moscow and Kiev, into suspect in the investigation into the Malaysian Boeing 777 crash in Ukraine in 2014, the German Deutsche Welle state-owned public international broadcaster reported on Wednesday citing Dutch Member of the European Parliament Kati Piri.

According to the politician, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) and the Dutch prosecutor circulated a letter stating that Tsemakh is now considered to be one of the suspects. Piri underlined that Kiev’s decision to include him in the swap list was a painful one for her country and families of the victims.

On September 7, Moscow and Kiev swapped prisoners on the ‘35 for 35’ formula. Preparations for the prisoner swap intensified after Vladimir Zelensky had been elected Ukraine’s president. Several weeks ago, the negotiations entered an active phase and legal procedures began for the two countries’ nationals who had been added to the list. On September 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the exchange would be massive and might be a step towards mending bilateral ties.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, a Boeing-777 passenger plane traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down on July 17, 2014, over Ukraine’s eastern region of Donetsk. The crash killed all the 283 passengers, citizens of 10 countries, and 15 crew members. In spite of the active armed conflict on the ground, Kiev did not close its airspace over the Donbass region to international passenger flights. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) looking into the crash is made up of representatives from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine. Russian officials have repeatedly expressed doubts and distrust of the results of its work, pointed to the groundless nature of arguments the accusations are based on and unwillingness to use Russian conclusions in the course of the investigation.

Tsemakh’s abduction

In June 2018, Ukrainian intelligence agencies abducted Vladimir Tsemakh, a resident of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and former DPR air defense militia commander. He was secretly taken to Kiev from across the line of contact in Donbass. The DPR authorities demanded that their citizen be returned and called on international human rights organizations to intervene. According to DPR head Denis Pushilin, Ukraine abducted Tsemakh with the intention to fabricate the circumstances of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crash.

Tsemakh was among those released on September 7 in accordance with the agreement reached by Russia and Ukraine to swap detainees. Prior to his release, Tsemakh was interrogated by Dutch prosecutors.

German Detective Ready to Discuss Sharing Info on MH17 Crash With Malaysia

Joseph Resch, a German detective, who carried out his own investigation into the 2014 Malaysian Airlines MH17 crash over east Ukraine, ordered by a private client, said that he was ready to discuss sharing his findings on the causes of the tragedy with the Malaysian authorities.

"We believe that the Malaysian authorities should contact us via the embassy or a lawyer, so that they could inform the Malaysian government about the ways this could be organised, if the conditions are satisfied," Resch said.

In July, Resch, who has been independently investigating the MH17 disaster since 2014 at the behest of an unnamed client, attempted to submit potentially groundbreaking new material on the case to the Dutch-led Joint Investigative Team (JIT), but was rejected after he asked to make the information public.

In mid-2015, an unnamed informant turned to the detective, allegedly providing him with important insider information.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, was shot down on 17 July 2014 as it was flying over eastern Ukraine, where a military conflict between the Ukrainian Army and the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) was taking place at the time. Kiev delegated the investigation into the incident to the Netherlands, but before the probe even started, Western governments accused Russia of supplying the DPR with the weaponry that had allegedly had downed the plane. Moscow denied being involved in the conflict in general, let alone supplying the DPR with arms.

Observers Cry Foul Over Kyiv's Release of Key Witness in Flight MH17 Case

This story originated in VOA's Ukrainian service. Some information is from AP.

Some Western observers are criticizing a Ukrainian court's decision on Thursday to release Volodymyr Tsemakh, a "person of interest" in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) more than five years ago.

The decision, handed down by the Kyiv Court of Appeal, comes amid talks between Moscow and Kyiv on a prisoner swap that unconfirmed reports have said includes Tsemakh, a Ukrainian citizen who reportedly oversaw an anti-aircraft unit among rebels stationed near the commercial airliner's crash site in eastern Ukraine.

Shortly after reports of Tsemakh's release circulated, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters gathered at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok that he believes the swap is imminent and will be "rather large-scale, and a good step forward toward normalization [of relations with Ukraine]."

In the swap, which is largely viewed as a pre-condition to quadrilateral "Normandy format" peace talks tentatively scheduled for later this month, Kyiv is seeking the return of 24 sailors detained by Russia last year off Crimea, as well as filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and others, whom rights groups and the government in Kyiv say are "political prisoners" in Russia.

Last week, a Ukrainian court released Vyshinsky on his own recognizance as he awaits trial on charges of high treason that were brought against him in 2018.

Tsemakh's release also comes a day after a group of members of the European Parliament wrote a letter urging Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy not to include Tsemakh in any deal, calling him a "key suspect" in the missile launch.

Officials from an international Dutch-led investigation have voiced concerns that transferring Tsemakh to Russian soil will make it impossible to question him about the case.

Peace vs. prosecution

International observers such as Bloomberg's Leonid Bershidsky say Tsemakh's release is an indication that the newly-elected Ukrainian president "is willing to use his considerable political capital ... to prioritize humanitarian matters."

"Such an approach would make it likely that (Zelenskiy) would also favor a broad amnesty for the separatists once the 'people's republics' rejoin Ukraine," he wrote, adding that Tsemakh's trade shows that Zelenskiy's "desire to end the war trumps all other considerations."

Security analyst Christo Grozev, with research group Bellingcat, first reported that Tsemakh might be released as part of the prisoner exchange. Grozev says Kremlin demands for Tsemakh's release are part of a broader effort to delegitimize the MH17 investigation.

"It's not going to change the amount of evidence the investigation team has gathered — the proof will still be there — but there will be significant damage done to the perceived legitimacy of the court procedures, or at least that's what the Kremlin will try to argue," Grozev told VOA.

Without an indicted suspect or witness to take the stand in a Netherlands courtroom, Grozev said, Russia won't need to send a legal team, giving the court procedures the appearance of a one-sided case.

Three Russians and a Ukrainian were indicted over the downing of flight MH17, and court proceedings in the Netherlands are scheduled for March. But the four suspects most likely will be tried in absentia.

Although Tsemakh was not one of the four indicted, Grozev calls him the only person who had been in Ukrainian custody and who could firmly link high-ranking Russian military personnel to the 2014 disappearance.

"The Dutch investigators will be looking for the chain of command, people who gave the instructions, and not the soldiers."

Threats and denials

Russia has always denied responsibility for shooting down the commercial passenger flight and claimed last year that the Buk missile came from Ukrainian army arsenals.

Conflict in Ukraine has killed an estimated 13,000 people since 2014. Although a cease-fire deal ended major conflict there in 2015, small-scale clashes still occur regularly.

The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) apprehended Tsemakh on June 27 in the Donetsk regional city of Snizhne.

According to the Dutch-led investigation, the Buk missile was fired six kilometers south of Snizhne.

by Nataliya Leonova

Kiev's Court Of Appeal Releases Witness In MH17 Case

Kiev's Court of Appeal canceled the arrest of Vladimir Tsemakh, a witness in the MH17 crash case, and ruled to release him immediately in the courtroom.

According to Ukrainian media reports, Russia insists that Tsemakh should be included in the list of detainees who will participate in the Russia-Ukraine prisoner exchange.

"To cancel the decision of ... Kiev's district court ... to extend the constraint measure of Vladimir Tsemakh in the form of arrest by October 20 ... To release Vladimir Tsemakh on personal recognizance ... immediately in the courtroom," the judge read out the court ruling.

He was released from custody but the court said his movements would continue to be restricted pending his trial in October.

MH17: Mahathir clears Russia, says insufficient evidence

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said there is insufficient evidence linking Russia for the 2014 downing of commercial Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

The premier said findings by the multinational Dutch-led Joint Investigative Team (JIT) fingering Russia for the downing did not seem "quite right".

"Yes, that (Russia's guilt)] is our doubt. But I do not have any relatives that were killed there. I do not have any rights to any insurance claims. I am seeing this as an observer from the outside, and some of the findings made [by JIT] did not sound to me and many people in Malaysia as being quite right.

“[…] I am not doubting their (JIT’s) truthfulness. But there are certain things that they claim - it is difficult for us to accept… Identifying the missile - yes. The area where it happened – that can be verified.

"But identifying the actual firing, by whom (it was performed), that would be very difficult in the usual circumstances" Mahathir was quoted saying in the interview.

Flight MH17, which was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was struck down by an anti-aircraft missile on July 17, 2014, as it flew over Ukraine, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board.

This is not the first time Mahathir had cast doubt over the findings of the JIT.

In June, he expressed scepticism as to Russia culpability and said the matter had been turned into a political matter on “how to accuse Russia of wrongdoing” from the start.

"I wouldn't think a politician would be stupid to act like that, so I don't think it's true at all,” he had said.

The prime minister denied his defense of Russia was influenced by trade relations between the two countries. Mahathir is in Russia on a three-day visit and is participating in the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok.

Russia wants Ukraine to hand over MH17 key witness

Ukrainian parliamentarian Mustafa Najem says that Russia wants Ukraine to give possible MH17 key witness Vladimir Tsemach to them. Russia, as he states, added the man to a list of prisoners the countries plan to exchange in the coming week.

Ukrainian media resources say that Tsemach previously stated in an interview that he helped to hide the BUK missile with which flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014. All 298 people on board, including 196 Dutch, were killed. He can be called to testify in the trial against four men suspected by Joint Investigation Team (JIT) of involvement in the downing of the plane. The trial will start at the high security court at Schiphol in March next year.

Ukrainian soldiers managed to take Tsemach into custody in June, smuggling him from the self proclaimed Dontesk People's Republic (DNR) and transferring him to Kiev. They say, Tsemach was the commander of a DNR anti-aircraft unit near Snizhne. He is still in Ukrainian custody.

Mustafa Najem

If Russia did indeed ask that Tsemach be transferred to them, it is a strange request. Tsemach is a Ukrainian citizen, which means Russia has no reason to want him. The discussions around the prisoner exchange are taking place behind closed doors, making it difficult to determine whether Moscow really made this request. Ukrainian MP Najem told that he "knows no more" than that the request was made. He would not give his sources, but said that they were reliable.  This means actually, that Najem can not prove his words. On the other hand, Russia can really make an attempt to save a man, who was arrested illegally.

Date Of New Russian-Australian-Dutch Consultations On MH17 Uncertain

The negotiations between Russia, the Netherlands and Australia, which is a member of the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT), are ongoing, the diplomat noted.

"Well, I know there have been further discussions since March. There were some talks recently, and there will be more talks later in the year, but I don't have a date exactly," Meehan said.

Meehan added that Australia would be "happy" to consider a message by Josef Resch, a German detective who has carried out his own investigation into the MH17 crash at the order of a private client, if he decided to provide it to Canberra upon facing another refusal from the JIT to take his information into account.

"Of course, [we would be] very happy to consider, and I think the JIT will consider any new information whether it is from him or anyone else. We are not closing into any new information," Meehan said, when asked whether Australia would consider a message by Resch, noting that if the detective wanted to give Australia information, he would be "most welcome to do that."

"Certainly for me I'm not trying to analyze myself or to second guess the evidence, but I have confidence in the professionalism of the investigators. I know they subject all evidence to a very thorough and careful analysis," Meehan also said.

Resch, who claims he is aware of who is responsible for the deadly crash, has made attempts to provide the JIT with evidence related to the case, but has got a refusal because of asking to make the materials public. Resch has said he could contact Russia, Malaysia and other countries and suggest them to publish his information about the tragedy.

Flight MH17 crashed on July 17, 2014, in eastern Ukraine while en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam. All 298 people on board were killed.

MH17 relatives ask Malaysian PM to "stop spreading doubts and divisions"

The relatives of people killed in the MH17 disaster wrote a letter to Malaysian! Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday, asking him to "stop spreading doubts and divisions" and to stop making statements that are "contrary to the truth", NU.nl reports.

In June the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which consists of investigators from the Netherlands, Australia, Ukraine, Belgium and Malaysia, announced that four suspects will be prosecuted for involvement in the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014. All 298 people on board the plane were killed, including 196 Dutch. The suspects are three Russians and a Ukrainian. The plane was shot down by a BUK missile system from the Russian armed forces, which was fired from a field under the control of pro-Russian separatists at the time, according the JIT. 

After the JIT's announcement, Mohamad dismissed the investigators' findings as "nothing more than hearsay" and said that the investigation into the disaster "has become a political case in which Russia is the scapegoat". He also demanded to see evidence.

Two weeks ago, during a congress in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, photos of the MH17 disaster were shown. Circles were drawn over these photos with the text 'This could never have been caused by a BUK missile", according to AD.

People who attended the conference - organized by the Perdan Global Peace Foundation, of which Mohamad is the chairman - want the trial against the suspects suspended, according to foundation Vliegramp MH17.

In the letter Vliegramp MH17, the foundation that supports the relatives of MH17 victims, pointed out to Mohamad that Malaysia supported the JIT in the past and that he is harming the investigation with his divisive statements. 

Mohamad is the oldest government leader in the world at age 94, according to NU.nl. He ruled in Malaysia between 1981 and 2003, and returned in 2018 after the then prime minister had to resign due to a corruption scandal. 

Flight MH17 disaster no secret anymore

Malaysia wants the world to stop bringing unfounded accusations against Russia about the crash of Flight MH17 passenger aircraft over the Donbass. Will we ever know the truth about the investigation? Is the West going to reveal objective data about the tragedy?

Pravda.Ru editor-in-chief Inna Novikova asked these and other questions to Russian political scientist, teacher, expert of the Higher School of Economics Andrei Suzdaltsev.

http://www.pravdareport.com/world/142655-mh17/

"It appears that the West is not going to give up on the topic of prompt nuclear stroke. Do you think that they still want to destroy Russia?"

"They cherishing this dream in the West since the times of the USSR. Now they suffer from another exacerbation of this disease. There are many of those in the world who dream of possessing nuclear arms. This is a big dream for President of Belaurs Alexander Lukashenko, let alone Ukraine. Yet, they can only dream about it. Even if they can technically build nuclear arms, they will not be allowed to. The crisis between Russia and Ukraine would thus be even more horrifying than the crisis between Pakistan and India."

"They haven't been bringing the topic of the crash of the Malaysian Boeing much lately. The Joint Investigation Team is not investigating anything - they try to fabricate facts by choosing the ones that they need. The work of the JIT is purely political. However, we can see Malaysia acting more decisive now. The Malaysian administration has repeatedly expressed its protests about the work of the JIT. Malaysia demands the West should stop presenting evidence-free accusations against Russia. Do you think they are ever going to find and announce the real perpetrators?"

"This is out of the question. They will never admit."

"Never? Not even in 50 years?"

"They will never announce. Russia has made many mistakes here too. We were
 looking guilty, we started looking for excuses."

"No, we held the press conference and provided objective data."

"We've had a few versions too. Russia should have conducted its own detailed investigation to dot all i's clearly. There was a military aircraft of the Ukrainian Air Force there. Most likely, the missile was launched from the Buk missile system.  There are two things that confuse me about this case. First off, the West promised us to conduct a full and open investigation into the tragedy. The Americans promised to show images made by the satellite that was flying above the area where the tragedy took place. Yet, the investigation is still secret, and the Americans have never shown anything either.

"Secondly, I do not understand why there was no fly zone established over the Donbass. There were hostilities there, planes had been shot down there too. One may accept the fact that the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters. Missiles do not reach such altitudes, especially the missiles that could be found in the conflict zone. However, shortly before the tragedy, flight control officers ordered the Malaysian aircraft to descend?! What was that? The Buk missile system can operate within the range of 60 kilometres around and at an altitude of up to six kilometers. The control room is located in Dnepropetrovsk.

"So they had to take the airliner down to 6,000 meters to make it fly right above the little circle of 60 kilometers. This is what the passenger aircraft did as pilots were following instructions from Ukrainian flight control officers."

"A flight controller ordered the plane to drift off the course. This officer then went on vacation and vanished."

"They wanted the airplane to be in the line of the Buk missile. The officer was indeed gone, there is no information about him, but the Dutch do not say a word about it. Even if there was a Buk system in the area, they were supposed to make the passenger aircraft approach the destructive zone. It was Ukrainian flight control officers, who did that, but there is no information about it. Malaysian experts confirmed that the recordings of the dialogues of insurgents were fake. They forgot about another version that was voiced in 2014. The version is about Putin's aircraft that was flying to Moscow above Europe. They were looking for Putin's plane, but they did not know exactly where its route was. If they had found it, they would have shot the plane down."

That is what they write in Russia. Sometimes it really looks like the West presents evidence-free accusations. But what is YOUR opinion about that?

New data: Malaysia turned down offer to lead investigation into MH17 which was shot down in Ukraine

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia was offered to lead investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 that was shot down on July 17 five years ago.

Image result for Datuk Seri Azharuddin Abdul Rahman

Former Department of Civil Aviation director-general Datuk Seri Azharuddin Abd Rahman said the country turned down the offer as it was too occupied with investigation into the disappearance of flight MH370.

“Under the protocol of ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) Annex 13, the country where the incident had occurred would lead the investigation into the case.

“Because Ukraine is unable to go into the rebel-controlled area, the countries responsible (affected by the downing of MH17) which include Malaysia as the state operating the aircraft agreed for the investigation to be lead by the Dutch authorities.

“Malaysia was offered (to lead the investigation). However, we told them that we were too occupied with MH370, which happened four months before that. We were far away from the crash site,” he said.

Azharuddin said this at the MH17: The Quest For Justice conference here today.

The day-long conference was jointly organised by the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), the Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF) and the Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG) in collaboration with the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).

Azharuddin also shared with the audience that Malaysia, which only became member of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing MH17 after six months into the tragedy, downloaded and listened to the voice recordings from the black boxes of the aircraft before it was officially handed over to the Dutch authorities.

“The black boxes, the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder were taken by us from the rebels through Colonel Mohd Sakri Hussin.”

Mohd Sakri was the chief negotiator of the ‘Dozen Persons’, a Malaysian team tasked with entering Ukraine covertly to secure not just the bodies of the victims but also the downed aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder, mere days after the tragedy took place.

Image result for mh17 black box

“We have downloaded and listened (from the recordings from the black boxes) as we wanted to know what exactly happened the last seconds of the incident.

“The preliminary report was made known and I had to inform the (Malaysian) government (of the findings).”

To a question from a speaker at the forum on the location of the black boxes now, Azharuddin said all the evidence was kept by the Dutch authorities.

“This is because the prosecution of this case would be done in at the Court in the Netherlands.

“That is why it (all the evidence including the black boxes) is with the authorities there.

“It is the same with the Lockerbie incident involving Pan Am Flight. The international requirement is that the evidence is kept at the place where the prosecution is being conducted,” he said.

Pan Am Flight 103 exploded when it was flying over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec 21, 1988.

Twenty six years later, flight MH17, which was flying 298 passengers and crew including 43 Malaysians was shot down near Hrabove, a village in the eastern part of Ukraine.

The aircraft had departed Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and was on its way to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down.

Flight MH370 vanished from radar while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board.

https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2019/08/513617/malaysia-turned-down-offer-lead-investigation-mh17-which-was-shot-down

U.S. warship downs Iranian passenger jet

On July 3, 1988 in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. Navy cruiser Vincennes shoots down an Iranian passenger jet that it mistakes for a hostile Iranian fighter aircraft. Two missiles were fired from the American warship–the aircraft was hit, and all 290 people aboard were killed. The attack came near the end of the Iran-Iraq War, when U.S. vessels were in the gulf defending Kuwaiti oil tankers. Minutes before Iran Air Flight 655 was shot down, the Vincennes had engaged Iranian gunboats that shot at its helicopter.

Iran called the downing of the aircraft a “barbaric massacre,” but U.S. officials defended the action, claiming that the aircraft was outside the commercial jet flight corridor, flying at only 7,800 feet, and was on a descent toward the Vincennes. However, one month later, U.S. authorities acknowledged that the airbus was in the commercial flight corridor, flying at 12,000 feet, and not descending. The U.S. Navy report blamed crew error caused by psychological stress on men who were in combat for the first time. In 1996, the U.S. agreed to pay $62 million in damages to the families of the Iranians killed in the attack.

Source: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/u-s-warship-downs-iranian-passenger-jet

Dutch PM discussed MH17 with Putin at G20 summit

Prime Minister Mark Rutte discussed the MH17 disaster with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on Friday. "I spoke to President Putin about MH17. For the Netherlands, but also for so many countries in the world, it is still an open wound. So if I have the chance to discuss it with the Russian president, I will. We talked about it and I will continue to do so on these occasions", Rutte said, RTL Nieuws reports.

The Dutch Prime Minister would not say exactly what he talked about with Putin. "I cannot say anything about that. The discussions must be confidential, also because of the extremely high sensitivity of the subject. It is of great importance that I seize every opportunity to speak with Russian leadership about MH17." He also would not say how Putin reacted. "I can only say what I do in this type of conversation. I can never say what the response of my conversation partner is, because of confidentiality and also because it would not be right if I spoke on behalf of my conversation partner."

Source: https://nltimes.nl/2019/07/01/dutch-pm-discussed-mh17-putin-g20-summit

Charges to be brought against four involved in MH17 downing in Donbas in 2014 after their names made public

Charges against the first four suspects in the downing of a Malaysia Airline Boeing plane (flight MH17) over occupied Donbas in 2014 will be brought after their names are made public by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), Ukraine's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Olena Zerkal said.

"The names will be announced. Charges will be brought. After that, the Criminal Court of Schiphol (the Netherlands) will start working to consider this case. But until the court establishes their guilt, we cannot say they are guilty ... They are only the top. Naturally, then the number of people who are involved in this will be much larger than the four people who will be named," Zerkal told Interfax-Ukraine in an exclusive interview.

When asked if this concerns the Russian army's senior officers, she answered in the affirmative, explaining that the transfer of such weapons as the Buk anti-aircraft missile system, which was used to shot down the plane, "is impossible without the top brass's permission."

The deputy minister clarified that "there is already all the information about how the Buk arrived, but there is no information about who shot, who is responsible."

After that, she said, Bellingcat, an international group of researchers, who collect and analyze information from open sources, is expected to deliver their presentation.

"There will be another interesting presentation by Bellingcat. They always go further than the official investigation team," Zerkal said.

She said that the representatives of the Netherlands and Australia are jointly moving "as part of their claim against the Russians for the downing of MH17 as a state." "They have already held one round of consultations with them, and now they are moving towards the second round of consultations to bring Russia to justice as a state," she said.

"So far this is international legal responsibility. These are all complex processes, and they are treated in a very careful and balanced way, and, unlike us, they understand that international legal responsibility in international law cannot be handled in a hurry," Zerkal added.

Source: https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/594455.html

Japan ends search operation for crashed F-35A fighter

Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya announced on 4 June that Tokyo has ended a search operation for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft that crashed on 9 April in the Pacific Ocean.

“To determine the exact cause of the incident we conducted thorough search operations in the area where the wreckage was found …. But we have judged that no more findings would come out of the area that can help ascertain the cause of the accident,” he said.

Iwaya also said the JASDF will resume flight operations of its current 12 F-35As, all of which are based at Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture, once the safety of the aircraft is confirmed.

Source: https://www.janes.com/article/89018/japan-ends-search-operation-for-crashed-f-35a-fighter

Air Force An-32 transport plane goes missing near China border with 13 people onboard

An Indian Air Force transport aircraft has gone missing after taking off from an airbase in Assam. The last contact with the aircraft -- an Antonov An-32 military transport aircraft -- was at around 1pm today. 13 people were onboard the plane, including eight crew members and five passengers.

The Indian Air Force has deployed all available resources, including Sukhoi Su-30 combat fighter jets and C-130 Hercules special operations aircraft, to locate the aircraft. Troops in the ground too have fanned out to hunt for the missing An-32.

The Antonov An-32 had taken off from Jorhat in Assam and was heading to the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground, located in Mechuka Valley in Arunachal Pradesh. The plane lost contact around 35 minutes after taking off. The Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground is located near the China border.

In July 2016, Indian Air Force An-32 transport aircraft disappeared over the Bay of Bengal with 29 people onboard. The plane had taken off from an airbase in Chennai and was headed to Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Radar contact with the plane was lost around an hour after the An-32 took off from the Tambaram Air Force Station, Chennai.

Following the disappearance, the Indian Air Force launched what later became India's largest search operation for a missing plane over the sea. However, the aircraft was never found and search operations were called off on September 2016.

The plane was presumed to have crashed and all the people onboard were presumed dead.

Source: https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/indian-air-force-an-32-missing-assam-1541514-2019-06-03

PM Malaysia: Where is the evidence?

Malaysia wants evidence to show that Russia is responsible for the flight MH17 tragedy in 2014, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Dr Mahathir said while the Malaysian government agreed that the plane was brought down by a Russian missile, it cannot be certain that the missile was launched by Russia. “They are accusing Russia but where is the evidence? We know the missile that brought down the plane is a Russian type missile, but it could also be made in Ukraine.

"You need strong evidence to show it was fired by the Russians. It could be by the rebels in Ukraine, it could be Ukrainian government because they too have the same missile,” said Prime Minister. “We don’t know why we are excluded from the examination but from the very beginning, we see too much politics in it and the idea was not to find out how this happened but seems to be concentrated on trying to pin it to the Russians. This is not a neutral kind of examination,” said Dr Mahathir.

I've a question. Why does Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team not ask such simple question? I know. There are too much politics in this tragedy. I mean, there is too much politics then so little the true.

MH17: Where is the evidence Russia is responsible, asks Dr M

TOKYO (Bernama): The Malaysian government wants strong evidence to show that Russia is responsible for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 tragedy in 2014, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

"They are accusing Russia, but where is the evidence?

"We know the missile that brought down the plane is a Russian-type missile, but it could also be made in Ukraine.

"You need strong evidence to show it was fired by the Russians.

"It could be by the rebels in Ukraine, it could be Ukrainian government because they too have the same missile,” he said during a dialogue and media conference with the Japanese Foreign Correspondent Club (FCCJ) here on Thursday (May 30).

Dr Mahathir said Malaysia accepted the investigation report by Holland but only up the point where the plane was brought down by a missile made by Russia.

He said while the government agreed that the plane was brought down by a Russian missile, it could not be ascertained that the missile was launched by Russia.

The Russians were a military people and they would know that MH17 was a passenger plane, he added.

"I don’t think very highly disciplined party is responsible for launching the missile,” he said.

The Prime Minister said Malaysia should also have been involved in the examining the black box as the plane belonged to Malaysia and there were Malaysians passengers.

"We may not have the expertise, but we can buy the expertise. For some reasons, Malaysia was not allowed to check the black box to see what happened.

"We don’t know why we were excluded from the examination but from the very beginning, we see too much politics in it, and the idea was not to find out how this happened but seemed to be concentrated on trying to pin it on the Russians.

"This is not a neutral kind of examination,” said Dr Mahathir.

Had a neutral party examined and made the conclusion, Malaysia would be willing to accept the findings but here we have parties with political interests in the matter, he added.

Flight MH17, which departed from Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam on its way to Kuala Lumpur, was shot before crashing near Torez in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, about 40km from the Russian border on July 17, 2014.

The incident killed 298 people, including 15 crew members.

Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) said the team was convinced that a BUK TELAR missile was used to down MH17, and that it originated from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade (53rd Brigade), which is a unit of the Russian Army in Kursk in the Russian Federation. – Bernama 

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/05/31/mh17-where-is-the-evidence-russia-is-responsible-asks-dr-m/

Plane crashes have cost 209 lives this year. Has flying become less safe?

With plane crashes making headlines over the weekend, one in Florida with no fatalities and another in Russia that killed dozens, travellers might question whether flying has become less safe.

Aviation experts regard the recent incidents as a statistical blip, however, pointing out that such accidents and fatalities are a fraction of what they were as recently as the 1990s.

Advances in aircraft and airport design, better air traffic control, and improved pilot training are often cited as factors in reducing accidents.

"I don't think we'll ever get to zero accidents, but aviation is still the safest it's ever been," said Seth Young, director of the aviation program at Ohio State University.

In the US, no airline passengers were killed in accidents from 2009 until April 2018, when a woman on a Southwest Airlines jet died after an engine broke apart in flight.

Worldwide, there were more than 50 fatal airline accidents a year through the early and mid-1990s, claiming well over 1,000 lives annually, according to figures compiled by the Flight Safety Foundation. Fatalities dropped from 1,844 in 1996 to just 59 in 2017, then rose to 561 last year and 209 already this year.

Nearly half of the airline deaths in 2018 and 2019 occurred during the crashes of two Boeing 737 Max jets in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Concern around automated flight controls

In each case, investigators are examining the role of flight software that pushed the nose of the plane down based on faulty sensor readings.

That raises concern about safety around automated flight controls, said William Waldock, an expert at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

"Pilots are not being trained as much as pilots as they are system operators and system managers," he said. "So when something happens and the automation fails, they get flummoxed."

Beyond the two Max crashes, safety experts see little immediate connection between other incidents such as the deadly weekend crash of a Russian plane that caught fire after an emergency landing in Moscow and the case of the charter airliner that ran off a Florida runway into a river; no one died in that one.

Investigators probe crashes in search of clues to prevent more accidents from the same cause.

In the case of the Aeroflot jet that caught fire, killing more than 40 people on board, attention is likely to turn to Russian media reports that lightning disabled the plane's communications system and whether pilots should have burned off fuel before the emergency landing.

Lightning strikes

Lightning strikes are not uncommon. In the US alone, there are about 25 million every year, according to the National Weather Service. A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said airline planes get hit about once a year on average.

Planes are built so that the fuselage acts as an electricity-conducting shield, keeping the voltage away from passengers and critical systems. The jolt is often dissipated off wings or the tail. Critical electronics have surge protection. Nitrogen is used to reduce the risk that electrical arcing could spark a fire in a fuel tank.

Newer planes like the Boeing 787, which uses carbon composite material instead of aluminium, includes fine wiring in the wings to direct current off the plane, said John Hansman, an aeronautics professor at MIT.

"They should be designed to take a lightning strike," Hansman said, "but if you don't have a perfectly grounded airplane, if you don't have the right surge suppressors, it's possible you can take out some of the avionics or electronics."

Sunday's fiery crash in Moscow raised questions about making an emergency landing shortly after takeoff, while the plane is still fully loaded with fuel and likely over the maximum landing weight.

Only very large airliners have the ability to dump fuel. Most jetliners including the popular Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 do not. That leaves only one option for lightening the fuel load on a plane like the Russian-made Sukhoi SSJ100 - circling long enough to burn fuel.

John Cox, a former airline pilot and now a safety consultant, said he would only circle if he were concerned that something was wrong with the plane's landing gear, or the runway was too short.

Video of the landing showed the Aeroflot plane seem to touch down on its main landing gear, then bounce up before coming down hard a second time. At that point, flames can be seen coming from the jet.

Video also captured passengers toting their carry-on luggage as they fled the burning jet. Passengers on US airlines are told to leave personal belongs in an emergency because it can slow the evacuation when seconds are precious.

"We will never know if more lives could have been saved if the bags were left behind," said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/business/markets/recent-plane-crashes-have-cost-209-lives-has-flying-become-less-safe-20190508-p51l45.html

Japan finds parts of crashed F35 fighter jet

Japan said Tuesday it had recovered some debris from a stealth fighter jet that crashed in April, but was still looking for the "all-important" memory that could offer clues into the accident.

Nearly a month after the high-tech F-35A plummeted into the sea off the coast of northeastern Japan, neither the pilot's body, nor the plane's fuselage have been found, said Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya.

Experts say Japan and the US are keen to prevent debris from the plane being recovered by Russia or China, with Iwaya admitting last month there were "a significant amount of secrets that need to be protected" on board.

Some debris, including a part of the flight data recorder, were recovered "on or after May 3", Iwaya said, adding: "The Defence Ministry is studying (the parts), but at this point, the all-important memory (of the flight data recorder) has not been recovered."

The fighter jet went missing on April 9 while flying 135 kilometres (85 miles) east of Misawa, northeastern Japan, on a training mission.

The plane lost contact about 30 minutes after taking off from Misawa Air Base with three other aircraft.

It was the first reported case of a crash by an F35-A, according to Japan's Air Self-Defence Force.

Japanese and US search crews have already found the jet's tail.

US and Japanese troops have used data from a Japanese seabed research ship along with a US-chartered special "diving support" vessel for deep-sea operations to pull up the newly discovered parts, Iwaya said.

Japan is deploying F35-As, each of which costs more than 10 billion yen ($90 million), to replace its ageing F-4 fighters.

They are a key part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to upgrade the nation's military capacity to meet changing power dynamics in East Asia, with China rapidly modernising its military.

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-7000631/Japan-finds-parts-crashed-F35-fighter-jet.html

Moscow plane fire: What happened in the disaster where 41 people died

Forty-one people were killed after a Russian plane made an emergency landing and burst into flames at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow.

Videos on social media show passengers using emergency exit slides to escape the burning Aeroflot aircraft.

Two children and a flight attendant were among the dead, Russian media reports.

One witness said it was a "miracle" anyone escaped the jet, which was carrying 73 passengers and five crew.

"There are 37 survivors - 33 passengers and four members of the crew," said an investigative committee official, Yelena Markovskaya.

Five people are in hospital.

Aeroflot, Russia's national carrier, said the plane was forced to return to the airport "for technical reasons", but did not elaborate.

Some flights have been diverted to other airports.

Source:

What happened to the plane?

The aircraft, a Sukhoi Superjet-100, departed Sheremetyevo airport at 18:02 local time for the city of Murmansk.

The crew issued a distress signal when "malfunctions" occurred shortly after departure.

After making an emergency landing at the airport, the plane's engines caught fire on the runway, Aeroflot said in a statement.

The crew "did everything to save the passengers," who were evacuated in 55 seconds, the airline said.

Aeroflot published a list of survivors (in Russian) who have been identified so far, adding that it will continue to be updated as new information comes to light.

Interfax quotes a source as saying the plane's engines caught fire on the runway after a hard landing, not in mid-air as initially reported.

Reports also suggest it did not succeed in its first emergency landing attempt.

Murmansk's Acting Governor Andrey Chibis has reportedly said that the families of those killed in the fire will each receive one million rubles ($NZ23,125), while the victims being treated in hospital will be given 500,000 rubles ($NZ11,562).

Survivors' stories

Mikhail Savchenko claims he was on the plane when it exploded into a fireball on the tarmac but "managed to jump out".

He shared a video of passengers running away from the burning plane, posting: "'Guys I am all right, I am alive and in one piece."

One of the surviving passengers, Dmitry Khlebushkin, says that he is very grateful to the flight attendants.

"Only thanks to the flight attendants, I survived," he told reporters.

Kristian Kostov, a former Bulgarian Eurovision contestant, has posted on social media about witnessing the incident.

He said people at the airport were left "shaking" after seeing the aircraft engulfed by fire and said other flights are now unable to take-off.

Another eyewitness, Patrick Horlacher, said it was "shocking to see" the plane being ravaged by flames just minutes before he was due to board another flight.

An investigation has been opened into the incident, reports say.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly been briefed and expressed condolences to the families of victims.

The region of Murmansk has announced a three-day mourning period.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/world/388603/moscow-plane-fire-what-happened-in-the-disaster-where-41-people-died

Boeing didn’t disclose 737 MAX alert issue for 13 months, says there was no safety risk

Boeing did not tell U.S. regulators for more than a year that it inadvertently made an alarm alerting pilots to a mismatch of flight data optional on the 737 MAX, instead of standard as on earlier 737s, but insisted on Sunday the missing display represented no safety risk.

The U.S. planemaker has been trying for weeks to dispel suggestions that it made airlines pay for safety features after it emerged that an alert designed to show discrepancies in Angle of Attack readings from two sensors was optional on the 737 MAX.

Erroneous data from a sensor responsible for measuring the angle at which the wing slices through the air — known as the Angle of Attack — is suspected of triggering a flawed piece of software that pushed the plane downward in two recent crashes.

In a statement, Boeing said it only discovered once deliveries of the 737 MAX had begun in 2017 that the so-called AOA Disagree alert was optional instead of standard as it had intended, but added that was not critical safety data.

Source:https://globalnews.ca/news/5242724/boeing-737-max-disclosure/

https://globalnews.ca/news/5242724/boeing-737-max-disclosure/

Crashed F-35A fighter jet located, US general says

NEW YORK -- A U.S. Air Force commander told reporters here Monday that the F-35A stealth fighter that crashed off the coast of Japan had been located, and that recovery efforts were underway.

"The aircraft's been located. ... It's now in the recovery aspect," said Charles Brown, four-star general and commander of the Pacific Air Forces, in a briefing for reporters in New York.

But later in the day, Colonel John Hutcheson, the director of public affairs at U.S. Forces Japan, contacted the Nikkei Asian Review and said "the aircraft has not been located at the bottom of the sea. The U.S. military is still working with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force to locate the wreckage."

Since the Japanese-built jet disappeared April 9, Japan time, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and the U.S. military have poured resources into searching for its wreckage, which could expose sensitive American military technology secrets if retrieved by China or Russia.

The F-35, a fifth-generation fighter developed by American defense contractor Lockheed Martin, evades radar and is expected to play a crucial role in the defense strategies of the U.S. and its allies for decades to come. It "can track and destroy adversary cruise missiles today, and, in the future, can be equipped with a new or modified interceptor capable of shooting down adversary ballistic missiles in their boost phase," the U.S. Department of Defense said in its 2019 Missile Defense Review.

The Chinese and the Russians have been eager to acquire information on the tech behind the F-35. Wreckage from the crashed plane could give them access to study the radar-absorbing materials key to the aircraft's stealth features.

The U.S. is working very closely with the Japanese side in support of the recovery of the aircraft, Brown said.

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Crashed-F-35A-fighter-jet-located-US-general-says

Dutch PM Rutte discusses MH17 probe with Ukraine's President-elect Zelensky

Rutte says he is looking forward to working with Zelensky.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has discussed the probe into MH17, a Malaysian Boeing shot down by Russian-led forces in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, in summer 2014, with Ukraine's President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky.

"Just spoke with upcoming Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to congratulate him on his electoral victory. Among other things, we talked about stability in the region and the importance of progress on the MH17 dossier. I look forward to working together," Rutte wrote on Twitter on April 24, 2019.

UNIAN memo. Malaysia Airlines' MH17 Boeing 777 heading from Amsterdam for Kuala Lumpur was shot down on July 17, 2014, over militant-occupied territory in Donetsk region. All 298 people on board who were citizens of 10 countries were killed in the crash. The majority of the victims, 196, were citizens of the Netherlands. The Dutch Safety Board October 13, 2015, issued a report on the causes of the accident. It was revealed that the plane had been shot down by a Buk anti-aircraft missile system. The Joint Investigation Team in its report published on September 28, 2016, confirmed that the plane had been downed by a Russian-made Buk brought to Ukraine from Russia. Dutch Chief Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said his office had identified 100 "persons of interest" in the investigation, including those who organized the arrival of the rocket and oversaw its transportation from Russia to Ukraine and back.

Read more on UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/politics/10530345-dutch-pm-rutte-discusses-mh17-probe-with-ukraine-s-president-elect-zelensky.html



First Flight for Royal Navy’s Merlin Crowsnest AEW Helicopter

For the record, the British Ministry of Defense awarded a contract worth 269 million pounds to Lockheed Martin in January 2017 for the supply of ten Crowsnest kits for the British naval aviation. The kits are modular radar systems that may be fitted (and taken off) any of the 30 Leonardo AW101 Merlin HM.2 maritime helicopters fielded by the Royal Navy.

The Merlin HM.2 helicopters equipped with this system will fly missions from British aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth-class and are replacing Sea King ASaC.7 DRLO helicopters in the 849th Navy Aviation Squadron (which were all decommissioned in September 2018)

The developer and manufacturer of the Crowsnest system is the British branch of Lockheed Martin (Lockheed Martin UK), while Thales and
Leonardo are subcontractors. Under the terms of the contract, the first Merlin HM.2 helicopter equipped with the Crowsnest kit was set to be
commissioned in June 2019, however it seems like the program is facing
some minor delays. Initial operational capability (IOC) was planned for the end of 2020, and full readiness for 2022.

Initially, Lockheed Martin offered its own containerized Vigilance system as part of the Crowsnest program, using a multipurpose radar with AFAR based on the Northrop Grumman AN / APG-81 radar (used on the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter) or the Israeli IAI radar placed in an external onboard container Elta EL / M-2052. This system has been tested by Lockheed Martin since the end of 2011. However, in April 2015, Lockheed Martin, joining forces with Thales, proposed a more conservative and cheaper version of the Thales solution, which was originally proposed by the latter independently. It is an upgrade of the Cerberus radar system used by the Sea King ASaC.7 helicopters with modified Thales Searchwater 2000 AEW radar with mechanical scanning. In May 2015, this “budget” decision was chosen by the UK Department of Defense.

Source: Naval news

U.S. Navy maritime patrol aircraft and destroyer join JSDF search for Japanese F-35A pilot

On Wednesday the U.S. Navy has reported that its P-8A maritime patrol aircraft and a guided-missile destroyer are assisting Japanese-led search and rescue efforts for the pilot of a Japan Air Self Defense Force F-35A missing since Apr. 9.

The F-35A lost radar contact approximately 85 miles east of Misawa Air Base.

A P-8A joined JASDF aircraft and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force ships searching the area overnight.

Additional flights are continuing today.

Guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) is sailing to the search area now.

U.S. 7th Fleet provides security alongside allies and partners throughout a free and open Indo-Pacific. As the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed fleet, 7th Fleet operates roughly 50-70 ships and submarines and 140 aircraft with approximately 20,000 Sailors.

The P-8A aircraft are assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 8 and Patrol Squadron (VP) 5. Both squadrons are homeported in Jacksonville, Fla. and are on rotational deployments to 7th Fleet out of Misawa, Japan.

Stethem is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.

source: DB

Japan's air force loses contact with F-35 stealth fighter

Japan’s military said on Tuesday it lost contact with one of its Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters over the Pacific Ocean close to northern Japan.

Japan’s first squadron of F-35s has just become operational at the Misawa air base and the government plans to buy 87 of the stealth fighters to modernize its air defences as China’s military power grows.

The advanced single-seat jet was flying about 135 km (84 miles) east of the air base in Aomori Prefecture at about 7:27 p.m. (1027 GMT) on Tuesday, when it disappeared from radar, the Air Self Defense Force said.

The military has launched a search for the missing aircraft and its pilot, it said in a statement.

A crash would be only the second time an F-35 has gone down since the plane began flying almost two decades ago. It would also be the first crash of an A version of the fifth-generation fighter designed to penetrate enemy defences by evading radar detection.

A U.S. military short take off and landing (STOVL) F-35B crashed near the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina in September prompting a temporary grounding of the aircraft. Lockheed Martin also makes a C version of the fighter designed to operate off carriers.

Japan’s new F35s will include 18 short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) B variants that planners want to deploy on its islands along the edge of the East China Sea.

Source: Reuters

‘No justice for MH17 victims if Statute not ratified’

There will be no justice for the victims of MH17 tragedy if the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is not ratified, says a group of student activists.

They said MH17 was shot down using a Russian missile and when Malaysia tried to bring the issue to the United Nations (UN), it was vetoed and dismissed by the world superpower, Russia, itself.

In an online petition, they asked who would be able to mete out justice to all 298 lives that were lost in the tragedy.

“The answer is the ICC. It has been five years, why have the perpetrators not been brought to the ICC?

“The answer is because Malaysia is not a signatory of the Rome Statute,” the activists said in the petition description.

They launched an online petition on Change.org to call for the government to accede to the Rome Statute.

They are the same university students who on Sunday leaked an executive report which was against signing the treaty, allegedly sent by four academicians to the Malay Rulers.

Source: Star

Ethiopian 737 MAX crash pilots followed emergency procedures

The pilots of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX jet that crashed last month had initially followed Boeing Co's emergency procedures but they still failed to regain control of the plane, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The crash killed all 157 people on board and led to a global grounding of 737 MAX jets.

Boeing had issued guidelines to pilots about shutting off an automated anti-stall system in the wake of a deadly crash in Indonesia less than five months earlier.

The Wall Street Journal report, citing unidentified people briefed on the matter, said the pilots had initially shut off the anti-stall system called MCAS that was pushing the plane's nose down shortly after it took off from Addis Ababa.

The pilots then cranked a manual wheel in an attempt to stabilise the plane, the report said, but they eventually decided to restore power to the usual electric trim on their control yokes, likely because the manual attempt didn't achieve the desired results.

Returning the electric power reactivated MCAS and allowed it to continue its strong downward commands, the newspaper said.

A preliminary report into the crash has not yet been released by Ethiopian investigators.

The report is expected within 30 days of the March 10 disaster under international rules governing crash investigations.

The planemaker said on Monday it planned to submit a proposed software enhancement package to MCAS in the "coming weeks", having previously said it would deliver the fix for US approval by last week.

Source: 9News

Dutch FM meets Malaysian counterpart in Putrajaya

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok held talks with his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Putrajaya on Thursday. The two attended bilateral meetings where they were expected to discuss various issues including the downing of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, a joint exploratory diving mission, palm oil cultivation and the Malaysia-EU Partnership. Their meeting comes a day after Australia and the Netherlands confirmed three-way talks with Russia over the ongoing criminal investigation into MH17. Blok is on an official one day visit to Malaysia to strengthen cooperation between the two countries.

source: AP

Malaysian Airlines MH17 Brought Down by Ukrainian Military Aircraft. The BBC Refutes its Own Lies?

The BBC has announced the release of a documentary on the crash of Malaysian airlines MH17, which will be broadcast on May 3 [2016]”:

“On 17 July 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed, killing 298 passengers in the worst air disaster for two decades.

The official investigation report into MH17 flight argues that only a powerful ground-to-air missile could be responsible. Yet, there are eyewitness accounts of other aircrafts seen flying next to MH17 close to impact. To further fuel the conspiracies, Russia and Ukraine blame each other but both countries are unable to provide all the critical radar data from that day.

Alarmingly, the devastating crash occurred just four months after the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. Is this just a coincidence? The cause of the crash has been focus of a host of conspiracy theories, many of which involve Russia, Ukraine and the CIA.

source: GR

Australia and the Netherlands want to hear Russia

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok reported on March 27 about a trilateral meeting between Russia, the Netherlands and Australia on the situation around the Boeing MH-17 crash in the Donbas. However, he noted that he could not disclose the details of the negotiations, since confidentiality in this situation is vital. However, the Dutch politician said that the main aim for him was to find the truth and achieve justice.

Discussion of the topic of the MH-17 incident with only two countries out of five that are part of the joint investigative team JIT with a high level of confidentiality leads to certain thoughts. One of the main questions are: why they negotiate with Russia outside the framework of the JIT and what is the goal of Australia and the Netherlands?

The main initiators of the creation of the investigative group were Ukraine and the United States, which are biased against Russia. This is probably why Malaysia was initially not included in the investigation team because of its neutral position in relation to the Kremlin. Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Locke, in an interview with Channel News Asia, stated that there is no convincing evidence to accuse Russia based on JIT data. This statement was a response to promulgated preliminary findings, in which investigators place full blame for the crash of MH-17 on Moscow. Therefore, Washington and Kiev tried to ignore Kuala Lumpur, even though the crashed plane belonged to a Malaysian company. In addition, among the dead were 43 Malaysian citizens. Malaysia was able to join the investigation as a full member only a few months later. Kuala Lumpur for this even had to go to the refusal to cooperate with the Security Council of the Netherlands, leading a technical investigation. As a result, on November 28, 2014, the prosecutor's office of the Netherlands informed Malaysia that it would be accepted into the JIT as a full member.

It seems that JIT has become a tool in the hands of the United States and Ukraine in the fight against Russia. The latest report, in which they once again accused Moscow, was based on materials provided by a group of independent journalists from Bellingcat headquartered in the UK. That source collects and analyzes data from the Internet. Accordingly, one cannot be 100% sure of it authenticity. However, their version was taken as a basis, and the remaining versions were almost ignored.

The start of trilateral negotiations between Australia, the Netherlands and Russia indicates that some members of the investigation team have realized the inadmissibility of the investigation based solely on the accusations of the Russian leadership. At the same time, the strong influence of Washington and Kiev within the framework of the JIT prevents the other members of the investigation team from adequately assessing alternative versions of the crash.

Most likely, Canberra and Amsterdam decided to meet with Moscow outside the JIT format because no one could stop them from hearing the Kremlin’s opinion about the perpetrators of the MH-17 crash. Obviously, therefore, all the details of the negotiations are classified. Meeting participants do not want Washington to interfere in the search for truth. At the same time, Australia and the Netherlands proved themselves to be independent countries, having decided to meet with Russia without US participation. Thus, they proved that their main goal is to uphold justice and search for truth to find the real perpetrators.

CIA, MI6 help Ukraine’s SBU spy agency in plotting covert operations, says ex-officer

MOSCOW, March 25. /TASS/. Operatives from American and British intelligence services are directly participating in hatching secret plots with Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) and training personnel to carry them out, SBU ex-employee Vasily Prozorov said at a news conference on Monday.

source: TASS

It was not a secret that Western countries helped Kiev to protect its sovereignty and integrity.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirms gun law reform after mosque massacre

Auckland (CNN)New Zealand's government has agreed to reform the country's gun laws in the wake of last Friday's massacre at two mosques, in which 50 people were killed, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed.

source: CNN

It's not about the topic of my site, but that terror attack hit my heart....... and I think it's right step to restrict armor sales. How do you think about this?

Dutch, Russia in Talks About Responsibility in MH17 Downing

The Dutch foreign minister says his country is in diplomatic discussions with Russia about the 2014 downing of a Malaysia Airlines jet over Ukraine

Foreign Minister Stef Blok said the initial diplomatic contacts were aimed at paving the way for formal talks and conducted in “a positive atmosphere.” He said it was too early to say where and when formal talks might take place.

source: VoA

The countries and carriers that have grounded the Boeing 737 Max

A growing number of airlines and countries around the world have grounded Boeing 737 Max jets or banned them from their airspace following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that killed 157 people on Sunday, five months after a similar Indonesian Lion Air jet plunged into the ocean, killing 189.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Authorities must react immediately when there is a threat to passenger.

The dependent journalists conduct the investigation

The international investigation team JIT has been trying to find the truth in the MH-17 crash in the skies over Ukraine for five years. For quite a long period of time, the investigation did not provide any material evidence of guilt neither Russia, nor Ukraine, nor anyone else. The only version of Moscow’s involvement in the Boeing crash was based on materials from the Bellingcat resource, whose work is based on an analysis of data from open sources.

Definitely, the journalists of the British agency carried out a painstaking and large-scale work. Their document, which they transmitted to JIT, is filled with a large amount of analyzed data from social platforms and other open resources. After reading the 115-page report, the common people have a clear understanding of the Kremlin’s guilt in the death of 298 MH-17 passengers. The fact is that the document is clearly accusatory in nature and does not consider other versions of the disaster. Moreover, there is not a single refutation of the Russian evidence of the guilt of Ukraine. One gets the impression that alternative versions are moderately ignored. That is why it is necessary to figure out whether there were Ukrainian Buk missile systems in the area of the Malaysian Boeing crash and whether they could shut down MH-17.

The Ukraine’s provisional president Turchinov issued on April 8, 2014 order No. 405/2014 on the start of the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) in eastern Ukraine. In preparation for active hostilities, the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine created military group of 50 thousand troops. The task of covering military units from the air was assigned to the 156th, 11th and 223rd anti-aircraft missile regiments, armed with the very same Buk air defense system.

The representative of the Ukrainian headquarters of the ATO Alexei Dmitrashkovsky in June 2014, in an interview with the newspaper Ukrainskaya Pravda, confirmed the existence of air defense units of the Ukrainian armed forces in Donbas. According to him, 156 anti-aircraft missile regiment was attacked by the separatists. However, he denied reports of the seizure by the militants of the Buk missile systems.

Another proof of the presence of "Buk" in the ATO zone is the award of the Order of Courage of the 3rd degree to the commander of the 223rd anti-aircraft missile regiment Colonel Alexey Tsukanov on August 5, 2017. At the same time, the award was presented to him personally by the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko. It is worth noting that this award is awarded for personal heroism shown when performing tasks in a combat zone. In addition, Tsukanov March 18, 2018 at a meeting in honor of the 75th Regiment, stressed that part of the task of protecting the airspace over the Lviv, Kherson and Donetsk regions. The participation of the 223rd air defence regiment in the battles in the south-east of Ukraine was repeatedly confirmed both by the Ukrainian media and political organizations. On July 14, 2017, a news article appeared on the UKROP party website: "The Striysky ukropovtsy volunteers brought uniforms to fighters fighting in the east." According to the text of the artickle, the volunteers visited the positions of the 223rd regiment in the settlements of Fedorovka, Soledar, Popasna, Mayorovka, Krasnogorovka, Vodyanoe and Nikolskoye.

Also the weapons of the 223rd Regiment in the Donbas were demonstrated in the television report of the Fifth Channel on November 13, 2015. The Buk air defense system and man-portable air defense systems got into the film. As stated by the military, they are able to keep under control all the airspace of Donbas and for a short period of time shot down four UAV of DPR army.

The presence of the Ukrainian "Buk" missile systems in 2014 in the ATO zone is obvious. The Ukrainian command could not afford to leave a large group of troops without air cover. Moreover, on July 6, 2014 there were reports that the separatists got Su-25 plane, which struck the Ukrainian column. In this case, the question arises: why the “independent” journalists from the Bellingcat did not consider and even did not disprove the version of the involvement of the Ukrainian “Buk” missile systems in the crash of the Malaysian Boeing. Obviously, the British group of investigators was aimed at convincing the world community of the correctness of its own version, and not in the search for the truth. This fact indicates that the investigation was dependent on somebody. However, it is more surprising that the official JIT investigators also decided to ignore all possible options and accepted the journalists' materials for the truth, which casts doubt on the professionalism of international investigators.

Whose «Buk» ?

On July 17, 2014 a flight accident occurred in the skies over the Ukrainian Donbas. On that day Malaysian airliner MH-17 was shot down at an altitude of about 10 km which taking flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people on board died.

The aircraft was shot down as it flew over a zone of active hostilities between government forces and separatists in the east of Ukraine.

The specially created joint investigation team JIT determined that the plane was shot down by a «Buk» missile system. Therefore there is a question: where did the missile come from to the combat zone and whose «Buk»?

First, it needs to understand whether the MH-17 was the only aircraft shot down in the skies over the Donbas region at that time period. It turns out that before the Malaysian Boeing crash, the Ukrainian air force suffered heavy losses. The first news in the media about the losses of Ukrainian aircraft dates back to March 26, 2014. On that day, the Mi-2 helicopter of the Armed Forces of Ukraine crashed near Malinovka, Kramatorsk district. Media reported that the helicopter trivially touched the power line. It was not combat losses.

Then in April 2014, operational loss began. On April 25, a Mi-8 helicopter was destroyed at the airfield. According to officials, it was destroyed by a hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher.

Another 10 Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters were shot down on May and June, 2014. Later nine Su-25, Su-24 and An-30B aircraft were attacked. The largest one-time losses of the Ukrainian military were happened on June 14, 2014. On that day, an Il-76 transport aircraft was shot down in Lugansk. Then 49 Ukrainian servicemen died. This happened just a month before the tragedy of MH-17.

One can think that the separatists' fault in the tragedy is obvious - they actively shot down Ukrainian planes and could accidentally destroy MH-17. However, media reported that the attackers used only portable anti-aircraft missile systems that could not hit the Malaysian Boeing at an altitude of almost 10 km. And the first information of the «Buk» air defense missile system in mass media was appeared only after the crash of MH-17.

In this case, there is a question: why did the separatists need the «Buk» air defense system if they successfully shot down Ukrainian planes with man-portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile which are much easier to use? Especially since they already had a great results of use. Who really needed a more powerful air defense system in a combat area?

The fact is that on July 13, just 4 days before the MH-17 tragedy, Life News agency reported that the separatists had a Su-25 plane that had struck the Ukrainian military convoy.

In addition, Kiev accused Russia of supporting the separatists and declared the presence of aviation from Russia in the area of hostilities. So, on July 16, 2014, Ukrainian officials reported that their plane was attacked likely by a Russian fighter jet.

Ukraine, like any self-respecting state, should have taken adequate measures to protect its troops. This measure was to transfer air defense units to the Donbas region. At that time, the 156 anti-aircraft missile regiment conducted such mission in the east of Ukraine and this unit was armed with the «Buk» air defense missile system. Until September 30, 2014, the unit was stationed in Avdiivka, Mariupol and in the Melitopol region.

It is likely that the passengers of the MH-17 fell victim to accidental circumstances and the faults of the Ukrainian military, who confused the passenger airliner with the enemy aircraft. Such fault occurred in Ukrainian history. On October 4, 2001, the air defense of Ukraine shot down «Sibir» airlines aircraft during exercises over the Black Sea. Then the Ukrainian leadership had enough political will to admit its guilt. In this case, the current Kiev authorities never admit to the committed crime, since its position in the international arena is rather unstable. Moreover, such recognition can be fatal for the current Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko in the war for the integrity of Ukraine.