Putin dismisses MH17 claims 

Putin dismisses MH17 claims 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the rocket that shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 was not Russian, dismissing the Dutch and Australian reports that blame the crash on Russian forces. 

Asked if the rocket was Russian, the newly elected president said “Of course not”, adding that there was “nothing that inspires confidence” in the international probes. “There are different versions of this tragedy, but no one takes them into account,” Putin said at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

MH17 flew at a high altitude and was thought to be out of range of any missiles Ukraine’s rebels were known to have but the civil aviation authorities were not aware Russia supplied the separatists with Buk missiles. 

The Netherlands, which lost 154 of its citizens, and Australia have begun legal proceedings against Russia, accusing it of being responsible for the disaster.

The move quickly gained support from the US, UK and the EU, putting further strain on tense relations between Moscow and the west.

Last week investigators reported that a Russian-made BUK missile that hit the Boeing 777 on July 17, 2014, came from a Russian air-defence detachment based in the southwestern city of Kursk.

“There is but one conclusion to be made from yesterday’s presentation, namely that Russia is thoroughly responsible for the deployment of this BUK system,” the Netherlands’ Prime Minister Mark Rutte told the media. 

All 298 people on board, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, were killed above territory held by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Russia has struggled to shake off the assumption that the missile was launched in a “what-does-this-button-do” moment with the Russian-backed rebels in the war-torn region. 

The disaster sparked fresh western sanctions on Russia for its support of the separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The Dutch authorities said, that together with Australia, they were holding Russia “formally accountable” for the deaths, and may submit a complex dossier to the international courts. 

Australia, which lost 27 citizens in the attack, also said it wanted answers.

“Russia has been conducting a campaign of misinformation and I call on Russia to stop seeking to discredit the legitimacy of the joint investigation team,” said Julie Bishop, Australia’s foreign minister. 

“This team was set up pursuant to a UN Security Council resolution to which Russia was a party. And Russia as a permanent member of the UN Security Council has a particular responsibility to uphold those unanimous resolutions.”

 

 

 

Schiphol after the crash. Picture credit: Wikimedia 

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