Russia Must be Called to Account for the MH-17 Tragedy

Jun 3, 2018

On July 17, 2014, a Malaysia Airlines passenger airplane, designated as Flight MH-17, left Amsterdam for Kuala Lumpur with 298 passengers and crew. Three hours into its flight, the airplane was shot out of the sky over eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board died. Most of the victims were Dutch, Malaysians, and Australians.

As a direct result of Russia's aggression in Ukraine, by mid-July 2014, Ukrainian security forces and Russia-led forces had been fighting in south-eastern Ukraine for over three months. It is worth noting that on July 14th, just three days before MH-17 was destroyed, two Ukrainian military aircraft were shot down by the Russia-led forces using Russian BUK surface-to-air missiles.

The site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash is seen near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014.
The site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash is seen near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014.

The International Civil Aviation Organization warned governments not to overfly south-eastern Ukraine, but this warning did not include the region where MH-17 crashed.

On May 24th, 2018, a Dutch-led international team of investigators announced that Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 had been shot out of the sky by pro-Russian “separatists” using a BUK missile that had been transported into eastern Ukraine from a Russian military unit based in western Russia. The BUK missile was fired from Russia-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine.

Because Russia provided the weapon, the Netherlands and Australia are seeking to hold Russia accountable for the tragedy. Despite these facts, Russia continues to deny its involvement.

“We strongly support the decisions by the Netherlands and Australia to call Russia to account for its role in the July 2014 downing of Malaysia Flight Number 17 over eastern Ukraine and the horrific deaths of 298 civilians. It is time for Russia to acknowledge its role in the shooting down of MH-17 and to cease its callous disinformation campaign,” said State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert in a written statement.

“As the findings of the Joint Investigative Team made clear, the BUK missile launcher used to bring down the passenger aircraft is owned by the Russian Federation and was assigned to the Russian 53rd anti-aircraft brigade near Kursk. It was brought into sovereign Ukrainian territory from Russia, was fired from territory controlled by Russia and Russia-led forces in eastern Ukraine, and was then returned to Russian territory. We urge Russia to adhere to UNSCR 2166 and respond to Australia's and the Netherlands' legitimate requests.”