The missile which brought down Flight MH17 two years ago over eastern Ukraine was transported into the area from Russia, a Dutch-led international criminal investigation found Wednesday.
"Based on the criminal investigation we have concluded that flight MH17 was downed by a BUK missile of the series 9M83, that came from the territory of the Russian Federation," the head of the Dutch police investigation Wilbert Pualissen said, in a press conference in Nieuwegein, in the Netherlands, adding afterwards the missile launcher system was taken back to Russia. 100 people who may be linked to the missile attack on the plane are also identified by the investigators.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was hit by a surface-to-air missile while en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and all 298 people aboard, most of them Dutch citizens, were killed.
At the time of the disaster, Ukrainian government forces were engaged in heavy fighting with pro-Russian separatists. The Boeing 777 broke apart in midair, flinging wreckage over several miles of fields in rebel-held territory.
Kremlin denies the accusation
The Kremlin said on Wednesday that radar data showed that Malaysian airliner MH17 was definitely not brought down by a rocket fired from territory held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014.
"First-hand radar data identified all flying objects which could have been launched or in the air over the territory controlled by rebels at that moment," said Peskov. "The data are clear-cut, there is no rocket. If there was a rocket, it could only have been fired from elsewhere."
MH17 impact on Nato-Russia relations
The Ukraine crisis appears especially after MH17 disaster to be a potential turning point in Euro-Atlantic security. Some senior Western officials and politicians have talked of a changed European security landscape, and that the crisis both creates new security realities for the twenty first century and demands a significant response from Nato.
This crisis illuminates very clearly the point that Moscow understands European security in very different conceptual terms from the West. Western capitals see the emergence of a Europe ‘whole, free and at peace’, Moscow sees a continent still fragmented, still dominated by bloc mentality and burdened by ongoing conflict. Where Western capitals see the “open door” policy and the enlargement of organisations such as Nato and the EU contributing to wider European stability, Moscow sees the expansion of these organisations destabilising European security. Where Western leaders have sought to emphasise partnership with Russia, including attempting to develop strategic partnership and the creation of numerous seats at the diplomatic table, Moscow sees itself increasingly isolated, the mechanisms for interaction failing to provide Moscow with a voice.
EU to rethink Russian relations
UK, Germany and France have agreed that the EU must reconsider its approach to Russia in the light of the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Relations between the EU and Russia have deteriorated rapidly. Taking a break from the discussion on the EU’s top jobs, the EU Council made some decisions.
EU thinks, the Kremlin cannot be relieved of the political responsibility for this. A reasonable government would have investigated the issue, unveiled the responsibilities, the lines of command, the shortcomings, the faulty operational procedures and change them accordingly to prevent such an incident happening again. Not so Russia. Russia instead wages an intensive propaganda war to blame Ukraine and confuse audiences in the West. In the UN Security Council, Russia vetoed the establishment of an international tribunal to investigating the issue. There reasons are clear. A tribunal under the auspices of the UN would not only enhance the legitimacy of the investigation, it would also demand access to the command structures and armed forces of “the rebels” in the Donbass, unveiling much about the Russian presence there, not only regarding to MH17.
The West, both the US and European powers alike – were reluctant to confront Russia on the issue because it would once again raise the questions of consequences again. The dual mantras of “keeping the channels for dialogue open” and “engaging constructively with Russia” seem to make Western politicians reluctant to raise issues that hinder further dialogue.
EU's military ambition
It is no secret that the EU has a common defence and security policy. Tony Blair practically invented it when he signed a defence cooperation agreement with Jacques Chirac in 1998. It is no secret, either, that some would like to see a full-blown EU army.
In practice, the EU currently runs six military missions, plus 11 civilian operations, mostly in the Balkans, the Middle East and Africa. But the troops serving in these missions are not under the banner of an EU army, but national forces. Britain’s Royal Navy commands the EU operation against Somali pirates; French troops are training infantry soldiers in Mali.
EU defence policy remains in the hands of European governments, not the EU executive. At the end of June the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, will outline a “global strategy on foreign and security policy”. That grandly titled paper will call for deeper EU security and military cooperation, an aim supported by many countries, including Germany.
The head of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has said the EU needs one to show Russia it is serious about defending its values.
The tragedy saw the European Union slap tougher sanctions on Russia, blamed by the West for being behind the rebellion. The punitive measures remain in place as the fighting drags on.
Sources: CBC, Reuters, AP