Russia appeals to UN to start new MH17 investigation

Russia wants International Civil Aviation Organization to supervise new investigation into what caused downing of MH17 passenger plane in eastern Ukraine

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Russia has appealed to the International Civil Aviation Organisation to open a new probe into last year’s downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine.

In the proposal, Russia not only rejects a leading proposal backed by the West to create a UN tribunal to prosecute those who shot down the plane, it is also questioning the impartiality of an investigation being conducted by the Netherlands and four other countries into the incident.

The Boeing 777 downed on July 17, 2014, in the midst of a military conflict between separatists supported by Russia and Ukrainian government forces.

The Dutch Safety Board said in Tuesday’s final report that the jet was destroyed by a Soviet-made Buk surface-to-air missile two-thirds of the 298 passengers of which were Dutch.

Russia and the rebels still claim that the plane was downed by a missile, it must have been fired by the Ukrainian military.

Oleg Storchevoi said in a televised news conference on Wednesday,"The Russian commission categorically disagrees with the conclusions of the final report. They are fundamentally wrong, the lack of logic there is beyond comparison."

"I had a feeling that the commission was cherry-picking the evidence to suit a theory they had chosen," he said adding Russia "will use its right" to continue the probe and has already applied to the UN's civil aviation agency to intervene.

Storchevoi underlined that Russia believes some of the evidence has been faked, accusing the Dutch of "hiding important data" from Russia and calling into question the authenticity of the shrapnel pieces of the missile allegedly found in the wreckage.

Rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko, however, denied any involvement in the crash saying, "We have said before and we still say that we did not shoot down the plane."

US ignores the Dutch report on MH17

The US continues to pursue its “belief” that it was the rebels who downed flight MH17, despite a 15-month-long Dutch-led probe which has not definitively concluded who fired the BUK surface-to-air missile, and the precise location from which it originated.

The Dutch report “validated” the US claim that the Malaysia-bound flight carrying nearly 300 passengers was downed “by a BUK surface-to-air missile” from “separatist-controlled territory,” US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a briefing to journalists on Tuesday.

At a media briefing in Moscow, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, “The unintelligible babbling we have to read constantly simply aims at, on one hand, confusing, and on the other hand – to form a desired public opinion, which could effectively be called propaganda.”

Ministry’s spokesperson underlined that the US acknowledged their position “long before” the Dutch report was published, which was also confirmed by the US State Department spokesman Mark Toner, when he said Washington stood by “our belief”, despite the fact that DSB reports neither attributed blame, nor determined the exact location from which the missile was launched.

The spokesperson Zakharova said, the adjustment of beliefs and results of the investigation has unfortunately become “commonplace, notably not only with the Malaysian Boeing issue, but with other subjects as well.”

The Dutch report avoided mentioning whose control the territory was under at the time of the incident, while also not stating the exact launch location.

The study included only technical details indicating that Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 crashed as a result of a BUK 9М38-series that exploded above the left hand side of the Boeing 777’s cockpit.

In the report, the Ukrainian authorities were criticized for failing to recognize the risk for civil airplanes and their failure to not close the airspace above the conflict zone.

Australia to seek justice

Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull assured Australian families devastated by the incident that the Australian government will never give up the search for the perpetrators nor be intimidated by Russia.

Turnbull said “As a government, we continue to do all we can to support the families, to keep them informed, to provide counseling and support. This report from the Dutch Air Safety Board will not provide all the answers to all of their questions. The demands of justice are yet unmet.”

“Today, I'm writing to the bereaved families to assure them that they have the heartfelt sympathies of the nation as this process continues," he added.

"We and all the nations whose citizens share our grief, are determined to do everything we can, no matter how long it takes to identify those responsible and bring them to justice."

On Tuesday, Australian Foreign Minister, Julia Bishop said "It [the report] determines the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile, consistent with the Australian Government's initial assessment of the accident."

"The report does not attribute responsibility for downing the plane. That is a question for the criminal investigation currently being conducted by authorities of the Joint Investigation Team which includes the Australian Federal Police,” she added.

Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which carries out another investigation apart from the DBS probe, is expected to determine who was responsible for the incident by the end of this year.

However, Russia has already challenged the results of the Dutch report, claiming that the investigation team “did not answer” Russia’s call to come to Russia and investigate the evidence that the Russian side was offering into the cause of the crash.

Ministry's spokeswoman said Moscow claimed that calls made by Russia to Kiev to release “military air traffic controllers recordings” at the time of the incident were never followed through.

While Kiev failed to release information regarding the positions of their own air defence forces in the area, Western media was quick to blame Moscow in the immediate aftermath of the crash last year.

Although there is still no official outcome regarding who is behind the crash, mainstream media went on to point fingers at “Russian-made” missile.

The Russian arms manufacturer determined that the missile had been an older BUK model, fired from an area under the control of Ukrainian forces thus contesting the fundamental findings of the Dutch-led investigation.

TRTWorld and agencies