On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed into sunflower fields located in eastern Ukraine. Everyone reasonably pointed fingers at Russia since the two countries had been (and still are) fighting in that region of the former Soviet republic.

A Dutch-led team of investigators announced today that the missile that downed the flight and killed all 298 people aboard came from a Russian brigade.


From CNN:

An update posted online by investigators Thursday said the JIT [Joint Investigation Team] was “convinced” that the Buk TELAR (transporter erector launcher and radar) used to down MH17 originated from the 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade, a unit of the Russian army from Kursk in Russia.

The team’s conclusion was based on “extensive comparative research” that identified characteristics particular to that individual Buk launcher.

“At the time this area was under control of pro-Russian separatists,” said Fred Westerbeke, chief prosecutor of the National Prosecutor’s Office of the Netherlands. The Buk launcher of the 9M38 series “was transported from the territory of the Russian Federation and was returned to that territory of the Russian Federation afterwards.”

Westerbeke highlighted how “this raises questions such as to whether the brigade was actively involved in downing MH17. It is an important question which the JIT are still investigating.”

The team still wants witnesses and anyone with information about the crash to come forward. Russia has completely ignored the JIT about the Buk even after the team asked the country back in October 2014 to provide them “with all information that may be important for establishing the truth.”

2014 was the year tensions ramped up between Russia, Europe, and America. From November 2013 to February 2014, Euromaidan took over Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, to protest against the government and push for closer ties to Europe instead of Russia. Following the massive protest, parliament ousted Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovych. The Russian-speaking east erupted in violence, Russia annexed Crimea, journalists provided so much evidence that Russian soldiers existed in east Ukraine, and Ukraine elected a new president.

MH17 took off in Amsterdam and flew over Ukraine to reach its destination of Kuala Lumpur. Dutch natives made up the majority of those on the flight. As The Washington Post pointed out, a video emerged that showed rebel fighters “celebrating what they thought was the downing of a Ukrainian military aircraft. Their celebration turned to concern when they realized that it was a civilian jetliner.”

If those responsible for the attack ever faced charges, they’d likely face a court in The Netherlands. But I doubt Russia will extradite them and it won’t help if they are still in east Ukraine because FIVE YEARS LATER, pro-Russian groups remain in charge of the region.

The Moscow Times reported that Russian authorities have downplayed all of this information:

Russian state media and state officials downplayed the news on Thursday. The state-run TASS news agency featured a headline saying that that international investigators “are still unable” to determine who downed the plane, while an article at the state-run Vesti.ru news website failed to mention the investigation’s claim linking the missile that hit the plane to Russia’s armed forces.

Throughout the investigation, Russia has denied any connection to the attack that killed 283 people.

The Defense Ministry said:

“From the first hours after the tragedy, Russia’s Defense Ministry has consistently refuted the Ukrainian insinuations that allege Russian armed forces were complicit in the catastrophe in Ukraine’s airspace and have passed the relevant evidence to the Dutch investigative group.”

“Not a single anti-aircraft missile system belonging to the Russian Armed Forces has ever crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border.”