Amsterdam, May 24: Investigators probing the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July 2014 have blamed Russia. According to investigators, the Russian missile that hit the plane originated from a Russian military unit. All 298 passengers on board died in the crash. Moscow has denied the allegations.
In 2016, the Joint Investigation Team, including representatives from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine came to a conclusion that a Russian Buk missile was fired from a part of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists. Investigators blamed Russia for helping the separatists with a missile launcher the missile launcher to fire the missile.
Wilbert Paulissen of the Dutch National Police at a press conference on Thursday said that investigators scrutinised images to establish the location of origin of the missile. “The Joint Investigation Team has concluded that the BUK-TELAR that shot down MH17 came from 53rd Anti-aircraft Missile Brigade based in Kursk in Russia,” said Paulissen
Russia has denied the charges. It claimed that no Russian military forces or equipment were used across the border in Ukraine. Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea in 2014. It has supported pro-Russian separatists in an ongoing war in the country's eastern territories.
In the crash 154 Dutch nationals, 43 Malaysians and 27 Australians were killed. Among the killed, nine passengers were also believed to be from the UK, four each from Germany and Belgium, three from the Philippines, one Canadian and 41 were unverified. Flight MH17, operated on a Boeing 777, departed Amsterdam at 3:45 pm IST and was estimated to arrive at Kuala Lumpur international airport at 3:40 am IST the next day. The Dutch Safety Board reported a last flight data recording at 16:20 local time i.e 6:40 pm IST.
In 1988, in similar incident the United States warship Vincennes shot down an Iranian airliner over the Gulf, killing all 290 passengers and crew. The US claimed that it accidentally mistook the plane for a fighter.