MH17 Probe Continues, Russia Calls For 'Impartial Analysis'

 - July 18, 2019, 10:55 AM

Russia continued to take to social media on Thursday in calling for an impartial analysis of all the available data to identify the “true causes” of the attack on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. The announcement comes a day after relatives and friends gathered to commemorate the 298 passengers and crew killed in the 2014 downing of the Boeing 777 jetliner over war-torn eastern Ukraine.

The statement, also released today by the Embassy of Russia in Australia, called the tragedy “a tool in a dirty political game” and accused the Netherlands’ Joint Investigation Team (JIT) of “playing on the feelings as well as the sorrow” of the victims’ relatives. The Kremlin reiterated that the investigations were biased against Russia, a view contrary to that of Malaysian prosecutors but echoed by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in a press conference last month.

“Evidence is based on sources that are quite questionable: social media, poor quality photo images and video footage, data from Ukrainian special services with nothing to back them, and investigations by would-be independent bloggers,” the Russian statement said. “[C]onsidering how the investigation was and is conducted, we cannot regard it as impartial or unbiased.” 

Such remarks stand in sharp contrast to the 2018 findings of the JIT, which concluded a Russian-made 9M38-series BUK missile supplied by the Russian military’s 53rd Air Defense Missile Brigade shot down the Boeing 777 from a field in Ukraine—an area controlled by pro-Russian separatists at the time. Investigators believe either Russian militaries or pro-Russian rebels brought the Soviet-era surface-to-air rocket across the border into Eastern Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly denied the allegations and accuses Ukraine of shooting down the plane.

Last month, the Dutch-led probe revealed the names of four suspects—Russian nationals Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov, and Ukrainian citizen Leonid Kharchenko—believed to have played a “significant role” in the airline disaster. Authorities have scheduled the criminal proceedings to take place at the Justice Complex in Schiphol, near Amsterdam, starting on March 9, 2020.

Meanwhile, Vitaly Mayakov, an official of Ukraine's SBU security service, told reporters on Wednesday that a suspect who organized the trailer carrying the missile was arrested two years ago and now is serving a prison sentence in Ukraine. He added than investigators have identified more than 150 people involved in the transport of the missile launcher.

Russian officials said they remain open to cooperation in the MH17 investigation. “Russia strongly believes that the path to the truth lies through dialogue and cooperation,” they said in a statement.