Denied as having been involved as Russia has today, international prosecutors of the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team investigating the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 have confirmed today that they believe the Buk missile that hit the Boeing 777 plane killing all 298 people on board had come from the Russia Federation and that it was fired from a field in a territory controlled by Russian backed rebels.
Investigators believe that the Buk missile had been taken from Russia to the rebel-held territory in Ukraine on the morning of the 17th July, the same day that the plane was later shot down. They also reckon that the launcher was then taken back to Russia.
Despite the Russian denial of involvement or knowledge and the use of a familiar excuse that hard factual evidence has not been displayed it si hardly surprising that the Ukraine foreign ministry should put out a statement saying that “this puts an end to all Russia’s attempts to discredit the activities and conclusions of the Joint Investigation Team by spreading distorted or fabricate information”.
There is plenty of other comment out on this tragic and disgraceful act of murdering so many innocent people so my comments will be fairly brief. However, the report today confirms the view of the Dutch Safety Board review published last year and that today’s report goes one stage further to the point of defining the actual field that the missile was fired from is welcome additional detail.
I doubt that this is the first time that through the last sixty years of the Russian Federation or during the former Soviet Union era that those who direct policy in the Kremlin have brought down a passenger plane. I hope however that it may be the last and while there can be little question of Russia or those that it was backing in Ukraine being brought to book for committing such a dreadful crime the families of those murdered do at least have some kind of closure.
The wider question of why the Malaysian Airways pilot had seemingly chosen not to avoid an area that had been designated as a danger zone remains unanswered but at the very least I suspect that this tragedy will lead to a change in how airlines and civil aviation authorities provide new guidance and better still, formal rules that stop civil aircraft flying anywhere near war zones or where there is likely to be a threat in future.
A sad day this is for the families of those who lost their lives in this act or terrorism and still no admission of guilt from those who know that they have the blood of 298 people on their hands. Russia and those that it supported in Ukraine undoubtedly bear guilt and whether or not the Russian authorities and the Kremlin has any knowledge of the specific act that took place in July 2014, the international world will see this as an act of sponsored terrorism by Russia and those that it provided weapons too.
A little further away another fire burns in the forest and one that Russia is probably equally culpable to that of the Assad Syria Regime. The bombardment of Aleppo by the Syrian Regime and its Russian supporters has at a stroke destroyed the remnants of a presupposed joint effort by the US and Russia to bring an end to the fighting. Syria, with the blessing of Russia, has used the peace attempt as an excuse to kill innocent people. A war crime this probably is but with no political or military end in sight to this dreadful five year civil war the people of Aleppo are left with little to cling on to but hope and the remote possibility of escape. Russia should be brought to book by the United Nations Security Council and shamed for the actions that it continues to take supporting the Assad regime.
CHW (London – 28th September 2016)
Howard Wheeldon FRAeS