Investigators: Flight MH17 downed by Russian military missile

Amsterdam (dpa) - The missile that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine nearly four years ago came from the Russian military, international investigators working in the Netherlands said on Thursday.

The Buk anti-aircraft system used to bring down the passenger plane belonged to the Russian military, the joint investigation team said in a press conference in Bunnik, the Netherlands.
The flight, which originated in Amsterdam, was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board. Most were Dutch nationals.
The investigation team concluded that the missile system used to shoot down the airliner was from Russia's 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade, based in Russia's Kursk region, said Wilbert Paulissen, head of the Dutch national police's central crime investigation department.
Russia's Kursk region borders north-eastern Ukraine.
The investigation team, which is led by the Dutch authorities and involves Malaysia, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine, came to the conclusion after extensively researching numerous pieces of physical evidence, as well as photos, videos and testimonies relating to the crash.
Russia promptly rejected the accusations, with the Foreign Ministry saying video evidence had been fabricated.
These "unfounded accusations are aimed at discrediting our country in the eyes of the international community," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"None of the Russian army's air-defence missile systems have ever crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border," the Russian Defence Ministry said in comments carried by state news agency TASS.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called for accountability for the downing of the airliner, in a message posted on Twitter.
"I commend the professional, independent work of the Joint Investigation Team on MH17. As the UN Security Council concluded, those responsible must be held to account. Almost four years since this global tragedy, it is important that justice is served," Stoltenberg tweeted.
A spokeswoman for the European Commission reacted to the findings by calling for continued international support for the investigation team and noting that Russia had not answered investigators' questions concerning the Buk system.
"We call on the Russian Federation to fully cooperate with all efforts to establish accountability for the downing of MH17," said Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for the commission.
Two years after the crash, investigators said the Buk missile came from Russia and was transported to an area controlled by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. The Buk missile system from which the rocket was fired is said to have then returned to Russia.

Thursday, May 24th 2018

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