UNITED NATIONS — A Dutch-led investigation has concluded that the highly effective floor-to-air missile system that was used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine two years in the past, killing all 298 on board, was trucked in from Russia on the request of Russian-backed separatists and returned to Russia the identical night time.
The report largely confirmed the already extensively documented Russian authorities position not solely within the deployment of the missile system, referred to as a Buk, or SA-eleven, however the subsequent cowl up, which continues to today.
The report by a group of prosecutors from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine was vital for making use of requirements of proof admissible in courtroom, whereas nonetheless constructing a case immediately implicating Russia, and is more likely to open an extended diplomatic and authorized wrestle over the tragedy.
With meticulous element, working with cellphone data, social media, witness accounts and different proof, Dutch prosecutors traced Russia’s position in deploying the missile system into Ukraine and its try and cowl its tracks after the catastrophe. The inquiry didn’t identify particular person culprits and stopped in need of saying that Russian troopers have been concerned.
A abstract of the findings, obtained by The New York Occasions, was to be launched at a information convention in The Hague on Wednesday. The inquiry represents probably the most detailed investigation up to now of the assault on Malaysia Airways Flight 17, a Boeing 777 flying to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, from Amsterdam.
In Moscow on Wednesday, in anticipation of the discharge, President Vladimir V. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, issued a press release to reporters decrying “hypothesis” concerning the aircraft however it didn’t refer particularly to the report.
“This entire story, sadly, is couched in an enormous quantity of hypothesis, unqualified and unprofessional info,” he stated. “There are irrefutable information. On this case, it is very important draw conclusions with due account of the newest revealed info, that’s, the first knowledge from radars that detected each airborne object that would take off or be within the airspace above militia-managed territory,” he stated.
These radar photographs, launched by the Russian army on Monday, confirmed nothing close to the airliner, he stated. “If any missile had existed, it might have been fired solely from one other territory. I don’t say which precisely territory it might be. It’s specialists’ enterprise.”
The Dutch-led inquiry appears to refute that declare, in addition to a collection of typically contradictory explanations and chains of occasions floated by the Kremlin, together with that the C.I.A. crammed a drone airliner with our bodies and crashed it to discredit Russia, or that Ukrainians have been making an attempt to shoot down the airplane of Mr. Putin, however hit the civilian airliner as an alternative.
That picture contradicted an identical radar picture that Russian officers confirmed two years in the past. That depicted two dots — one for the airliner and a second for a Ukrainian fighter jet that Russia steered might have shot down the passenger aircraft.
The destruction of Flight 17, on July 17, 2014, got here amid intense preventing between Ukrainian forces and rebels, backed by Russia, in japanese Ukraine. It deepened the already strained relations between Russia and the West. Among the many casualties, the most important group have been Dutch.
Just some days later, the United States government concluded that the aircraft had been introduced down by a Russian-made floor-to-air missile launched from insurgent-held territory and most certainly offered by Russia to professional-Moscow separatists.
The Dutch Safety Board decided in October that the aircraft had been shot down by a missile fired from a Buk floor-to-air system.
The report of the Joint Investigation Workforce, led by the Netherlands’ chief public prosecutor, Fred Westerbeke, corroborated that discovering. It concluded that the weapon used within the assault had been delivered to Ukraine from Russia, although it drew no conclusions about who gave the orders to maneuver the weapon and — most essential — to shoot.
The investigators did, nevertheless, present a timeline main as much as the destruction of the aircraft.
First, in intercepted phone conversations from the night earlier than the assault, separatists in japanese Ukraine are heard requesting the Buk missile system to be able to defend themselves from Ukrainian airstrikes. Later that night time, in response to the intercepted conversations, they have been advised they might obtain the weapons system that night time.
Second, the investigation discovered that a convoy of vans introduced the missile system, together with a big army car that’s used to launch the missiles, from the Russian border to the spot from which the missile was launched. The workforce stated it used intercepted telephone calls, social media posts and witness testimony to piece collectively the route that the convoy took. It stopped in Donetsk, in japanese Ukraine, the investigation discovered, the place a number of witnesses noticed the vans, together with a white one carrying the missile-launching car.
Third, the inquiry recognized a patch of farmland the place the missile was launched, about eight miles southeast from the place the aircraft crashed.
Lastly, the investigation pieced collectively what it stated was the trail the missile system took on its method again to the Russian border. The workforce stated it had spoken to a separatist who confirmed part of the return route.
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