Dutch, Australia Name Russia As Behind MH17 Downing

Netherlands, Australia blame Russia for 'downing' MH17 plane

It comes after a joint investigation team on Thursday released findings that a Russian missile was used to shoot down the Malaysian Airlines passenger jet over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

On Thursday, Dutch-led worldwide investigators concluded that the missile belonged to a Russian brigade.

The statements come a day after global investigators probing the downing of the plane said it was brought down by a Russian military missile.

The Netherlands and Australia say they are holding Russia legally responsible for the plane's downing after global investigators concluded that the missile that hit the plane came from a Russian military unit, accusations Russia has rejected.

Australia and the Netherlands have declared their intention to hold the Russian Federation responsible for its role in the downing of the plane.

Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that based on the JIT findings "the only conclusion we can reasonably now draw is that Russian Federation was directly involved in the downing", according to a statement. Bellingcat said Ivannikov, operating under an alias, was responsible for the transfer of Russian weaponry into eastern Ukraine during 2014. A possible next step is to present the case to an worldwide court or organisation for their judgment.

The latest conclusions from the JIT came nearly four years after the July 2014 catastrophe, which killed 298 people, a lot of them Dutch citizens.

The ministry said Friday the fragments displayed by investigators indicated the Soviet-made missile was produced in 1986.

The EU statement called on Moscow "to accept its responsibility and to fully cooperate with all efforts to establish accountability".

But the Russian defence ministry also vehemently rejected the findings, saying the missile "most likely belonged to the Ukrainians".

Ivannikov also supervised the procurement and transport of weapons across the Russia-Ukraine border, the group said, adding that the JIT investigation earlier knew him only by his codename "Orion" and the fake name and patronymic "Andrey Ivanovich".

Holding Russia accountable for its part in the downing of flight MH17 is separate from the criminal investigation and any prosecution and trial of the perpetrators of the downing of flight MH17.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Blok discussed the findings of the investigation by phone, but Lavrov heard no facts confirming Russia's responsibility, Interfax reported.

"All the vehicles in a convoy carrying the missile were part of the Russian armed forces", said Wilbert Paulissen, of the Dutch National Police, at a news conference on Thursday.

In turn, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on May 24 that Ukraine will do "everything possible to ensure that Russia's activities as a state sponsor of terrorism are treated appropriately at the United Nations International Court of Justice".

Westerbeke said investigators were not yet ready to identify individual suspects publicly or to issue indictments, but that when they do he expects cooperation, or a firm worldwide political response. But they are appealing for further information, especially about the BUK system's crew, and who ordered the plane to be shot down.

The Dutch government urged "Russia to enter into talks aimed at finding a solution that would do justice to the tremendous suffering and damage caused by the downing of MH17".

Later, Bellingcat, a civilian investigative journalism network, said during a press conference in The Hague, the Netherlands on May 25 that it had identified a key suspect in the MH17 case sought by JIT investigators.

Bellingcat has alleged that both men are top-ranking Russian military officials.

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