17 july / 2018

Comment by the Russian Foreign Ministry Information and Press Department on the fourth anniversary of the of MH17 plane crash in eastern Ukraine

Four years have passed since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in Donbass, claiming the lives of 298 innocent passengers from many countries. Again, we extend our condolences to the families and friends.

Russia has consistently advocated a thorough and objective international investigation into the Malaysian Boeing crash from day one, and took part in drafting UN Security Council Resolution 2166. Our country immediately offered all necessary technical and expert assistance, including expertise gained from investigating the Siberia Airline plane downed by Ukraine’s air defence forces over the Black Sea in 2001.

Instead, the Netherlands did not allow Russia to participate in the Joint Investigative Team (JIT) and opted to pursue a preconceived explanation, all but ignoring essential information that Russia was providing to the investigation during all this time both on a voluntary basis and as part of the legal assistance mechanism.

There is understandable concern over the biased and closed nature of the current investigation, its reliance on social media and unverified open sources, as well as the cooperation with pseudo-investigators from Bellingcat, which is well known for spreading false information.

At the same time, despite clearly being an interested party, Ukraine remains a full-fledged JIT member and, in fact, can influence the outcome of the investigation. Kiev gets away with failing to provide important information such as radar data, information about the location and activity of Ukrainian air defence forces, or records of exchanges between Ukrainian air controllers.

It is outrageous that the Netherlands essentially absolved Kiev of blame for failing to close the airspace over the area of ​​hostilities in the eastern part of the country.

In late May, the Netherlands and Australia, without waiting for Russia to respond to the requests for legal assistance in the MH17 case sent by Dutch prosecutors in March, April and May, groundlessly accused our country of being involved in the crash of the Malaysian airliner and demanded, in the form of an ultimatum, to start talks to discuss the legal consequences of such responsibility, including compensation for the relatives of the crash victims. By doing so, these two JIT members have demonstrated their unwillingness to continue full-fledged constructive cooperation on the MH17 case, as well as lack of interest in conducting a comprehensive, objective and independent international investigation.

In a statement on the fourth anniversary of the MH17 plane crash, Foreign Minister of Australia Julie Bishop mentioned the proposal by the Netherlands and Australia to enter into a dialogue with Russia to discuss the circumstances that led to the tragic loss of innocent lives. This is precisely what we have been calling for since 2014, but it took four years for our partners to realise that. So much time was wasted.

Russia remains committed to Security Council Resolution 2166 and stands ready to assist the investigation in order to establish the truth and hold accountable those responsible for this tragedy.