Russia has withdrawn from talks with Australia and the Netherlands launched nearly two years ago to establish responsibility for the 2014 downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17,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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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
"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
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.
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.