Thursday

20th Feb 2020

Opinion

MH17 five years on: when will Russia be punished?

  • 'Russia tries to create a "parallel reality" in order to justify its aggression - such as the ridiculous fairytale that sophisticated weapons in Donbas could be found in the old mines (Photo: onderzoeksraad.nl)

On this day five years ago (17 July 2014) 298 passengers of the Malaysian flight MH17 were heading to Kuala Lumpur when suddenly a Russian BUK missile launched from the not by the Ukrainian government controlled part of Donbas hit the plane, killing everyone on board.

It is impossible to imagine the pain and grief of their families and loved ones.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Most of all today I want to convey my profound condolences to the relatives of the victims and assure that Ukraine is committed to find out the truth about this tragedy.

Over these five years, the Joint Investigation Team, consisting of Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, Ukraine and the Netherlands, has been doing everything possible to shed light on the circumstances of this tragedy and bring the perpetrators to justice.

After the profound and comprehensive investigation, the Joint Investigation Team concluded that: the missile system "Buk" used to shoot down MH17 came from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, a unit of the Russian armed forces from Kursk in the Russian Federation.

The system was illegally transported from the Russian Federation to non-government controlled territory of Ukraine through the uncontrolled part of the Ukrainian-Russian state border.

After firing, the system went back to the Russian Federation.

From the very first days of the MH17 tragedy Russia's propaganda machine poured all available resources and tools to hide the truth, mislead and manipulate.

However, no one believed in its lies.

Since 2015, EU vs Disinformation campaign run by the European External Action Service's East Stratcom Taskforce has collected over 120 pro-Kremlin disinformation cases on MH17.

What is even more important that following the 21st Ukraine-EU summit held in Kiev this month both sides called on the Russian Federation to accept its responsibility and to cooperate fully with all efforts to establish accountability.

Ukraine has been struggling against Russian military aggression and information warfare for more than five years, but I still cannot get used to Russian blatant lies and hypocrisy when we talk about people's lives.

What Russia tries to do is just to create a "parallel reality" in order to justify its aggression.

Russia tries to justify its occupation of Crimea while the whole democratic world does not recognise the attempted annexation of the Ukraine's peninsula.

Russia tells the ridiculous fairytales that sophisticated weapons in Donbas could be found in the old mines, while the democratic world imposes sanctions for Russian military aggression in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

Russia persecutes more than 100 Ukrainian political prisoners and imprisoned 24 Ukrainian sailors under trumped-up and politically motivated cases, while the democratic world keeps calling on the Russian leadership to stop this inhumanity and release them.

Back in 2015 the Russian Federation vetoed a United Nations Security Council draft resolution on establishing international tribunal to prosecute those responsible for downing MH17, while now Russia is urged by its international partners to stop lying about the circumstances of the tragedy and cooperate with the investigation.

Five years after the MH17 tragedy we are still facing the question: will Russia be punished for 298 innocent victims? Will all those involved be brought to justice?

Ukraine is committed to comprehensive cooperation with the Joint Investigation Team and the counties participating in it.

On June 19, the Joint Investigation Team named the main suspects: active or former agents of the Russian special services and a citizen of Ukraine, who provided assistance to them.

Trial next year in Netherlands

A court trial will commence in March 2020 at a national court in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Taking into account the appalling shooting down of MH17 and Russia's consistent violations of international law, inter alia, of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, Ukraine resorted to the International Court of Justice.

This issue also remains on the radar of Ukraine/EU political agenda.

All this clearly proves that punishment is inevitable.

Ukraine will fully cooperate with our international partners and use all available international mechanisms and legal instruments to reveal the truth and establish the justice.

It takes dignity, courage and honour to play a fair game and be a reliable partner. But all this has nothing to do with Russia, as all it can do – to create a parallel reality and hide behind its own lies.

But I am sure that in the end the truth and justice will prevail. The perpetrators will be held accountable.

It is not only our obligation, it is our moral duty and matter of honour for ourselves and families of the deceased.

Author bio

Mykola Tochytskyi is the head of the mission of Ukraine to the EU.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

MH17 and the diplomacy of business going Dutch

The shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines flight reinforces the point that the security of citizens outside state borders is to be framed as a central issue in 21st century security policy.

Letter

MH17: Punishment without crime?

Last week a number of politicians and diplomats used the fifth anniversary of the MH17 flight tragedy as a pretext to renew attacks against Russia, writes the Russian press attache in Brussels.

France calls Russia peace summit on Ukraine

France has called an EU summit with Russia on the Ukraine conflict following a prisoner exchange - but the Dutch are unhappy that Ukraine freed a witness of the MH17 atrocity.

News in Brief

  1. EU unveils white paper on AI and data strategy
  2. Dutch court rules against Russia in €46bn Yukos case
  3. Britain to bar 'Polish plumber-type' migrants
  4. Greece seeks EU help to get back classical statues from UK
  5. HSBC to cut 35,000 jobs worldwide
  6. Regions chief appeals against cutting EU cohesion funds
  7. Verhofstadt criticises UK Brexit negotiator
  8. Turkish court acquits Gezi park activists

Second-hand cars flaw in EU Green Deal

The moment Europe revels in its carbon-free transport system, most of the cars that emitted too much for EU standards will still be driving around for years somewhere else in the world.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. EU leaders face major clash on rule of law budget link
  2. North Macedonia warns EU on 'dirtiest ever' election
  3. Western 'endarkenment' and the voodoo politics of Europe
  4. Warning of agricultural 'digital arms race' in EU
  5. Cayman Islands put on tax-haven blacklist after Brexit
  6. Boris' Brexit bluff? - UK will resist alignment to the end
  7. US still open to Kosovo-Serbia land swap
  8. EU countries enter final phase of budget talks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us