Probe: Missile that downed MH17 came from Russia-based unit

Elias Hubbard
May 26, 2018

The Netherlands and Australia are formally blaming Russia's government for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014, one day after worldwide investigators said the missile that struck the jet originated from the Russian military.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the findings were based on "fake data" presented by bloggers and that Moscow's information regarding the case was largely ignored.

The worldwide team running the criminal investigation appealed for help from witnesses who can testify about the involvement of the Russian military's 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade based in the city of Kursk.

"It is nothing but an allegation aimed at tarnishing our country's image on the worldwide stage", a ministry statement carried by TASS news agency said.

The Dutch Safety Board concluded in an October 2015 report that the Boeing 777 was hit by a Russian-made Buk missile, killing all passengers and crew, who came from 17 countries, including 38 Australians.

"That a sophisticated weapon belonging to the Russian Army was dispatched and used to shoot down a civilian aircraft should be of grave worldwide concern". Dutch prosecutors said in 2016 they had identified 100 people of interest but did not reveal their identities.

The investigators on Thursday offered only open-source video and photographic evidence to support their conclusion that the missile came from a Russian military antiaircraft system.

The official cabinet reaction to the new findings will be discussed on Friday morning, but foreign minister Stef Blok has already said "an important piece of the puzzle is in place".

Ultimately, any suspects identified and charged will be prosecuted in Dutch courts - if they can be arrested and brought to trial.

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

In 2016, investigators announced they had evidence that the BUK system involved in the incident had crossed the border into eastern Ukraine from Russian Federation and returned after the plane had been shot down.

CORRECTION: An earlier version misreported that a Russian military unit had shot down MH17, according to findings by the Joint Investigation Team.

WATCH - The Downing Of MH17: What Happened?

The worldwide team said it was not ready to name suspects for the attack but has previously released wiretaps of conversations between two men who are heard apparently discussing the return of the missile launcher to Russian Federation.

They also took issue with the "vile and deceitful campaign" by the Russian media saying it was "misinformation meant to distract and confuse, to create an alternative reality".

"The investigation hasn't specifically named names, but it is clear from what they have been saying today that they are pointing the blame today at the Russian military itself", he said.

A file photo taken on July 18, 2014 shows Alexander Hug, second left, Deputy Chief Monitor of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe's Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, visiting the site of the crash of a Malaysian airliner carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine.

Tkachyov denied that he was Delfin or that he was in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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