Thursday, 21 October 2021

Australia and Netherlands formally accuse Russia of downing MH17


MELBOURNE: The Netherlands and Australia have formally accused Russia of being responsible for the 2014 downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet in 2014 that killed 298 people.

The move on Friday came a day after international investigators concluded that the missile which smashed into the flight MH17 came from a Russian military brigade in Kursk.

At the time of the incident on July 17, 2014, pro-Russian separatists were fighting Ukrainian government forces in the region.

The Boeing 777 broke apart in midair, flinging wreckage over several kilometres of fields in rebel-held territory.

The two countries “hold Russia responsible for its part in the downing” of the Malaysia Airlines flight, the Dutch government said in a statement on Friday.

They may now move towards submitting the complex dossier to an international judge or organisation, it added.

“Australia and the Netherlands have now informed the Russian Federation that we hold it responsible under international law for its role in the bringing down of MH17,” said Julie Bishop, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs.

“Australia and the Netherlands have requested Russia to enter into negotiations to open up a dialogue about its conduct and to seek reparations.”

Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands, reporting from Russia’s second biggest city of St Petersburg, said the evidence provided by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) led the Netherlands and Australia to believe that Russia was responsible.

“Holding a country legally responsible is a complex process but what Netherlands and Australia want is for Russia to enter into negotiations with both of them which will ultimately lead to reparations for the victims’ families.”

Russia said on Friday the Netherlands had provided no evidence that Moscow was directly behind the shooting down of flight MH17, accusing the Dutch of promoting their own agenda.

“They have practically no doubt that the BUK missile came from Russia,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in St Petersburg.

“I asked [Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok] about facts proving these claims. He did not give me any facts saying they want Russia to help establish them based on unfounded suspicions,” Lavrov said.

He accused the Dutch of using the tragedy to “achieve their own political goals”.

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