Moscow, Russia—The Russian government has accused the Ukrainian security forces of being the perpetrators behind the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
On July 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down by a missile in Ukrainian airspace. All 298 passengers died. The majority were Dutch citizens, but other nationalities were also on the casualty list.
Immediately, suspicions fell upon Russia and the Russian-backed rebels of the Donetsk People’s Republic, who both denied any knowledge. However, the chief Dutch investigator at first said that the missile was fired by a Russian military unit in the proximity of Kursk, which is very close to the Russo-Ukrainian border. Further evidence, however, indicated that missile was fired from eastern Ukraine. In response, the European Union imposed economic sanctions on Russia. Last May, Australia and the Netherlands directly named the Russian government as responsible.
But now, the Russian government has released new evidence that supports the contrary. The country’s defence ministry has published the missile’s serial number. The number indicates that the BUK missile responsible for the tragedy was shipped to Ukraine before the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Russian spokesperson stated that the missile was never returned to Russia.
“The missile with the serial No. 886847379, intended for the BUK missile system Dec. 29, 1986, was sent by rail transport to military unit No. 20152,” said Nikolai Parshin, a Russian military spokesperson.
“After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the missile was not brought onto Russian soil and was incorporated into the Ukrainian armed forces,” added Parshin.
Following the disaster, investigators from Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Malaysia, and Ukraine formed a Joint Investigation Team (JIT). After the missile’s origin had been identified, the JIT requested further information about its origin from the Russian Defence Ministry.
JIT said that they would study the new evidence and include it in their report. “The JIT will carefully study the information brought out by the Russian Federation as soon as the documents are made available,” they said in a statement.
As a caveat, the JIT also highlighted that previous information furnished by the Russian authorities were incorrect and misleading.
The Russian government also called the video footage that shows the BUK missile entering rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine fake. This was based on the light conditions in the video.
From Kiev’s side, the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko refused to sign the extension of a friendship agreement with Moscow.