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25th Jun 2022

MH17 culprits still not identified, one year on

  • After the crash, the bodies of the victims were driven through the Netherlands (Photo: Edith Zwagerman)

Friday (17 July) will mark one year since the MH17 disaster in east Ukraine, but an investigation into the cause has not yet identified who shot it down.

US broadcaster CNN reported on Wednesday that a draft version of a Dutch investigative report into the events points to pro-Russian rebels as being responsible.

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  • Commemorative sign in Malaysia (Photo: Sonia)

The news outlet based its story on one source it said has seen the draft report of the Dutch Safety Board, which is leading the probe.

Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant on Thursday nuanced the CNN story. Based on multiple sources in the Dutch government, the paper notes the draft report does not yet include complete proof.

“The report only states that the plane was downed by a [Russian-made] Buk missile. But not where that missile came from, or who pushed the button”, one source told the paper.

On 17 July 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam crashed on its way to Kuala Lumpur, in the Ukrainian region Donetsk, a scene of heavy fighting between the Ukrainian army and Russia’s hybrid forces.

All 298 people on board the plane died. Two-thirds of them were Dutch.

The disaster marked a turning point in the conflict, when EU states imposed far-reaching economic sanctions on Russia.

The measures were recently refreshed until January next year.

But the dispute over MH17 remains central to the dossier, and could impact future sanctions decisions.

Although several witnesses have pointed to the Russian side, Russia denies responsibility and its media have sowed consipracy theories blaming Ukraine.

The Dutch government, together with its counterparts from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, and Ukraine, have been unable to persuade Russia to agree to the set-up of an international tribunal to prosecute the perpetrators.

On Wednesday, the Russian foreign ministry repeated that an MH17 tribunal would be “counter-productive”. Russia can stop such a United Nations' tribunal with its veto in the UN Security Council (UNSC).

Possibly next Tuesday (21 July), the UNSC will vote on the tribunal.

Meanwhile, Russian state news agency Tass reported that, according to a Russian investigation committee, the missile which shot down MH17 was “not Russian-made”.

In a press statement, the Dutch Safety Board noted the “draft final report is confidential” for the time being and that it will not comment.

It expects to publish the final report by mid-October 2015.

EU foreign policy faces test after MH17 shootdown

EU foreign policy is facing a major test today as ministers gather in Brussels to consider their response to the suspected downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight by Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine.

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