Denials and accusations from Russia, the Netherlands, Australia, the U.S., the EU, and NATO follow new MH17 findings by JIT and Bellingcat
Moscow says again: hey, it wasn't us
Following the latest investigative findings that the Russian military was responsible for shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014, the Russian military has issued its latest denial that it was involved in the tragedy. In a statement on Friday, the Defense Ministry said the missile engine’s unit number, which indicates that it was manufactured outside Moscow in 1986, proves that the weapon fired at flight MH17 wasn’t in the Russian military’s arsenal, because Russia’s armed forces decommissioned and scrapped all 1986-generation missiles in 2011. The ministry pointed out that Ukraine didn’t receive a single new missile for its Buk missile system after 1991, suggesting that it would likely have needed to rely on older Soviet munitions.
The Kremlin says: hey, listen to our Defense Ministry
Later on Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov endorsed the Defense Ministry’s position. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov compared the MH17 case to British allegations that Moscow is responsible for poisoning former spy Sergey Skripal — another charge widely believed in the West that the Kremlin denies.
Bellingcat says: hey, we found your guy, Moscow
On Friday, May 25, Bellingcat said it had established with high certainty that a Russian military intelligence officer named Oleg Ivannikov (known by the aliases “Andrey Ivanovich” and “Orion”) supervised the procurement and transport of weapons across the Russian-Ukrainian border from 2014 to 2015, during which time flight MH17 was shot down. From 2006 to 2008, Ivannikov served as the defense minister of the breakaway republic of South Ossetia. In eastern Ukraine, he allegedly coordinated the activities of the “Wagner” Russian mercenary group and acted as a liaison with the self-declared Lugansk People’s Republic.
In a press conference on Thursday, the Joint Investigative Team stated what has become obvious for many observers around the world: the Buk missile that shot down flight MH17, killing all 298 people on board, was fired from a Russian military unit. The announcement on May 24 pinned the deadly incident on Russia's 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade. Open-source researchers at Bellingcat had already identified the same brigade as the likely source of the missile.
The Europeans, the Americans, the Australians, and NATO say: HEY
The Netherlands and Australia announced on Friday that they now formally hold Russia responsible for the downing of flight MH17. “We call on Russia to accept its responsibility and cooperate fully with the process to establish the truth and achieve justice for the victims of flight MH17 and their next of kin,” said Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok.
The United States government has also endorsed the Joint Investigative Team’s findings, saying in a statement on Thursday: “It is time for Russia to cease its lies and account for its role in the shoot down.” On Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “I call on Russia to accept responsibility and fully cooperate with all efforts to establish accountability, in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2166,” which demands that those responsible for the downing of flight MH17 are held to account and that all states cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability. The European Union issued a similar statement, “calling on the Russian Federation to accept its responsibility and to fully cooperate with all efforts to establish accountability.”