Pressure mounts on Russia over MH17 missile attack

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May 26, 2018
Wreckage from MH17.

Pressure is mounting for the Russian government to come clean on the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 with warnings it could face an international legal action over its involvement.

Russia has denied that a BUK missile from one of its army units was used to destroy the Boeing 777 in July, 2014 as it flew between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur.  All 298 people on board, including 38 Australians, were killed.

But the governments of the Netherlands and Australia have put the Russian Federation on notice that they hold it responsible for its part in the downing of the airliner.

This comes after the joint investigation team looking into the attack concluded a BUK missile, fired from an area under the control of Russian separatists, came from the 53rd Anti Aircraft Missile brigade based in Kursk in the Russian Federation.

READ: Social media used by MH17 investigators to identify Russian army unit.

“The downing of flight MH17 caused unimaginable suffering,” said Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said in a statement released Friday.

“The government has always said that the truth surrounding the MH17 disaster had to be brought to light and that justice must be achieved for the victims and their next of kin.

“The Netherlands has the support of the international community in this respect. On the basis of the JIT’s conclusions, the Netherlands and Australia are now convinced that Russia is responsible for the deployment of the Buk installation that was used to down MH17.

“The government is now taking the next step by formally holding Russia accountable.”

The Dutch statement noted state responsibility comes into play when states fail to uphold international law and they are pursuing this legal avenue.

“Holding a state responsible is a complex legal process, and there are several ways to do this,’’ it said.

“The Netherlands and Australia today asked Russia to enter into talks aimed at finding a solution that would do justice to the tremendous suffering and damage caused by the downing of MH17.

“A possible next step is to present the case to an international court or organization for their judgment.”

The Australian government echoed the sentiments of its Netherlands counterpart in a joint statement from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Attorney-General Christian Porter.

“This evening Australia and the Netherlands notified the Russian Federation that we hold it responsible for its role in the downing,’’ the statement said. “We have requested negotiations to open dialogue around the circumstances leading to the tragic loss of innocent lives.

“The Russian Federation must be held to account for its conduct in the downing of MH17 over eastern Ukraine, which resulted in the tragic deaths of 298 passengers and crew, including 38 people who called Australia home.

“Holding the Russian Federation responsible under international law is separate, but complementary to, the prosecution of the individual suspects, which is taking place under the Dutch national system.”

A separate investigation by the US-based McClatchy media group and invesigative websites London-based Bellingcat and Moscow’s The Insiders has also claimed a figure connected with the attack and known as “Orion” is a high-level Russian military intelligence officer.

Orion was caught on mobile phone intercepts discussing the movement of equipment across the border with another Russian military official, identified by the media investigators as a semi-retired three-star general.

An intercept made by the Ukrainian security service two days before the MH17 tragedy had Orion saying “we got a BUK now… so we start shooting the hell out of their planes’.

The media investigators say they have identified Orion “with a high degree of probability” as Oleg Vladimirovich Ivannikov. an officer with the Russian spy agency GRU.

While they are not claiming the Russian was present when the BUK  was fired, they say he met it at the border and tried to personally make sure it want back to Russi in the middle of the night.

Russia responded to the findings by accusing Bellingcat of acting with Ukrainian authorities to present fake evidence to blame it for the MH17 incident.

It also accused the multi-national joint Investigation team of ignoring Russian “facts and evidence”.

“There is a well known style, a rough, clumsy algorithm,” Russia’s ambassador to Australia, Grigory Logvinov, said in a statement. “Dirty provocations are organized, and the guilty side is determined in advance.

“The so called “investigation” is conducted almost completely on the basis of information from social networks and several international non-governmental organisations, which have tainted themselves long ago by fakes, forgeries, primitive fabrications and so on.”