NARRATIVE: The International Court of Justice admitted Russia was not involved in the downing of flight MH17 in 2014.
BACKGROUND: The Malaysia Airlines passenger aircraft flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was downed on July 17, 2014 over the territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists in Donestk. All the 298 people onboard were killed. Most of the passengers were Dutch citizens. A joint international investigation involving representatives of the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine concluded in 2021 that the aircraft was downed using a “Buk” Russian-made missile shot by the 53rd air-defense brigade with the Russian military forces in Kursk, close to the Ukrainian border.
Starting 2014, Russia started spreading a number of false narratives about the downing of this plane. According to one version, the Ukrainian army shot down the plane assuming it was carrying president Vladimir Putin onboard. Other voices in Moscow claimed the missile was part of the 9M38 series, which was used by a military unit from the Ukrainian region of Ternopil. Moscow officials accused Ukraine of involvement in the air crash and falsifying evidence.
PURPOSE: To manipulate public opinion and hide the truth from Russian readers about Moscow’s involvement in the downing of the Malaysian passenger flight.
WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: In fact, if we look carefully at the written text of the ICJ ruling, published in English and Russian, we will notice that the investigation provided a series of evidence attesting to Russia’s involvement in the downing of the aircraft. The document debunks the disinformation narrative promoted by the Kremlin in most government media outlets. According to the International Court of Justice, judge Hendrik Steenhuis mentioned during the court session that the Russian Federation was in overall control over the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk (DNR), which means Moscow was responsible for this territory at the time the plane was shot down.
The document also states that several separatist leaders had Russian citizenship or a vast experience in the Russian army. “Some DNR leaders had close ties to the Russian Federation. For instance, wiretapped conversations often reference contacts with high-ranking officials from the Russian Federation”, the judge said. Hendrik Steenhuis also said that Russia regularly supplied weapons to DNR and helped train rebels. Moscow is also accused of appointing the leaders of the self-proclaimed DNR, thus coordinating military activities targeting Ukraine.
One of these leaders appointed by Russia was Igor Girkin, a former colonel in the Russian Federal Intelligence Service (FSB), who at the time of the crash was the acting Defense Minister and commander of the armed forces of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk.
According to the ICJ ruling, the “Buk” missile was Russian made and was brought from Russia to Donetsk. In the wake of the air disaster, the missile system was transported back to the Russian Federation in order to conceal evidence. In other words, the ICJ ruling clearly points to Russia’s direct involvement in the downing of the plane. Based on the preliminary investigation, in March 2022 Australia and the Netherlands formally accused Russia of shooting down the MH17 aircraft, their position also being backed by the EU.
Veridica has disproved several false narratives about the downing of this aircraft, promoted by the Russian government media in recent years. In July 2021, the Kremlin launched a false narrative according to which Ukraine is to blame for the downing of flight MH-17 and the West is trying to conceal it. In August 2021, the Russian media indirectly accused Ukraine of shooting down the airplane, saying the Taliban are more concerned with air security than Ukraine.