Ukraine wants Russia held to account over MH17 downing

Monday July 17 2017

A picture taken on July 17, 2014, shows flames in the wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed near the town of Shaktarsk in rebel-held east Ukraine. PHOTO/AFP
A picture taken on July 17, 2014, shows flames in the wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed near the town of Shaktarsk in rebel-held east Ukraine. PHOTO/AFP
Military officers at the site of the crash  on July 17, 2014. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET
Military officers at the site of the crash on July 17, 2014. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET
A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows the wreckage of the malaysian airliner after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET
A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows the wreckage of the malaysian airliner after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET
A man stands next to the wreckage of the Malaysian airliner after it crashed, in rebel-held east Ukraine, near the town of Shaktarsk, on July 17, 2014. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET
A man near the wreckage of the Malaysian airliner after it crashed, in rebel-held east Ukraine, near the town of Shaktarsk, on July 17, 2014. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET
A firefighter on July 17, 2014 puts out fire on the wreckage of the Malaysian airliner near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER  KHUDOTEPLY
A firefighter on July 17, 2014 puts out fire on the wreckage of the Malaysian airliner near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY
Relatives of passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on July 18, 2014.  AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANA
Relatives of passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on July 18, 2014. AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANA
The wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines jet carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur a day after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine on July 18, 2014.
The wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines jet carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur a day after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine on July 18, 2014. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on July 17 that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. The head of Ukraine's air traffic control agency said Thursday that the crew of the Malaysia Airlines jet that crashed in the separatist east had reported no problems during flight. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET
By AFP
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Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday insisted Russia must be held to account over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, three years on from the tragedy that killed 298 people.

International investigators have said the Boeing airliner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was blown out of the sky over conflict-wracked east Ukraine on July 17, 2014 by a Buk missile system brought in from Russia and fired from territory held by Moscow-backed rebels.

The probe being led by The Netherlands — which suffered the majority of losses — is focusing on some 100 people suspected of having played an "active role" in the incident, but the investigators have not publicly named any suspects.

The West and Kiev are adamant that all the evidence points to the insurgents and Moscow.

RESPONSIBILITY

Russia and the separatist authorities it supports, however, continue to deny any involvement and have sought repeatedly to deflect the blame onto Ukraine.

"It was a barefaced crime that could have been avoided if not for the Russian aggression, Russian system and Russian missile that came from Russian territory," Poroshenko wrote on Facebook.

"Our responsibility before the dead and before future generations is to show to the aggressor terrorists that responsibility is unavoidable for all the crimes committed," he said.

Officials announced this month that the trials of any suspects arrested over the shooting down of MH17 will be held in the Netherlands.

The countries leading the joint investigation — Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, The Netherlands and Ukraine — agreed that any trials will be carried out within the Dutch legal system.

THIRD ANNIVESARY

Poroshenko said that he was "convinced that the objectivity and impartiality of Dutch justice will complete this path."

"It is our shared duty in the face of the memory of those whose beating hearts were stopped exactly three years ago by a Russian missile," he wrote.

No official events are planned in Kiev to mark the third anniversary but local residents are expected to gather for a small religious ceremony at the crash site in rebel-held territory.

Russia and Ukraine have been locked in a bitter feud since Moscow seized the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014 after the ouster of a Kremlin-backed leader by pro-Western protesters in Kiev.

Moscow was then accused of masterminding and fueling a separatist conflict in two other eastern regions that has cost the lives of some 10,000 people in over three years.

Russia insists it has not sent troops and weapons to fight in Ukraine despite overwhelming evidence that Moscow has essentially been involved in an undeclared war.