As a Dutch Court is handling the case of the civilian airline passenger Boeing MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine in 2014, the narratives concerning the incident are resurfacing. This time it is claimed that the aircraft was mistaken for the Russian President’s plane. The Russian media is also highlighting a turn of events that may be soon witnessed as the reports filed by a Russian company were admitted.
NEWS: “Soon we may witness a turn of events in the case of the MH17 plane crash. The Dutch District Court has admitted the reports filed by the Russian company “Almaz Antei”. According to “Tsargrad” author Alexander Tsygankov, the news might upset those have long defended and protected Kiev, who fight their own people, because it mars the image of a democratic and legitimate country which Kiev authorities and Western powers have been trying to uphold since the 2014 coup.
Evidence suggests Ukrainian air traffic controllers redirected a passenger airliner to a warzone where it was shot down by Kiev troops, who probably mistook it for Russia’s presidential aircraft”.
NARRATIVES: 1. Ukraine shot down MH17. 2. The joint investigation team and Dutch authorities are conducting a biased inquiry.
BACKGROUND: On July 17, 2014, an Air Malaysia aircraft carrying 298 people onboard was shot down by a missile over Eastern Ukraine. There were no survivors. Shortly after the tragedy, a heated exchange of accusations broke out between Ukraine, on the one side, and Russia and Moscow-backed rebel separatists, on the other side, regarding who should take the blame for downing the plane.
The Dutch prosecution set up a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which included experts from Belgium, Australia, Malaysia and Ukraine (citizens of the first three countries had been onboard).
JIT concluded that the plane was brought down with a missile fired from a BUK installation belonging to the Russian army, which was immediately transported across the border into Russia. Ever since the start of the investigation, Moscow and rebel separatists have presented a number of alternative narratives, some of them inconsistent, trying to shift responsibility for the plane crash on Ukraine.
The narratives sought to provide answers to two questions: what happened and why. The answer to the former was that the plane was shot down by the Ukrainians, although multiple possibilities were presented: it was either shot down by another plane, by anti-air ordnance or the whole crash was a setup. The answer to the former question, “Why?”, again came with several narratives: MH17 was allegedly attacked by a Ukrainian fighter jet or was used as a cover story by the Ukrainian air force allowing it to take action against the rebels. Alternatively, the crash had been staged, and everyone on the plane had already been dead at the time of impact, and the BUK missile system actually belonged to the Ukrainian army.
A report of the „Almaz-Antey” arms manufacturer was presented as evidence to back up these stories. According to the findings of its own forensic inquiry into the plane crash, the missile that brought down flight MH17 had been fired from an area controlled by Ukrainian forces. Moreover, the BUK missile launcher was an old Soviet-era missile system left in the possession of the Ukrainian army when the USSR collapsed.
Based on the JIT inquiry, four people were brought to court on murder charges for the downing of flight MH17, three Russian citizens, Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov, who are allegedly Russian intelligence, and a Ukrainian citizen, Leonid Kharchenko, head of the DNR’s GRU military intelligence unit. Oleg Pulatov was the only defendant who accepted to speak to the Court. His defense is ensured by two Rotterdam-based Dutch attorneys and Yelena Kutina employed by a Moscow law firm.
The trial started on March 9, 2020 and resumed on February 1, 2021. In a hearing on February 8, the Court accepted to attach the 2015 and 2016 reports of the forensic investigation conducted by “Almaz-Antey” as evidence for the defense. This doesn’t mean the reports are accurate or will hold up in court, but the Dutch Tribunal merely observed the defendant’s right to defend himself by presenting evidence that might exonerate him, evidence which the Court might nevertheless find inconclusive.
Founded in 2014, “Tsargrad” is owned by Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev. The former Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), Alexander Borodai, had been one of Malofeev’s advisers. Moreover, reports in Ukraine point to a connection between Malofeev and Igor Girkin, who led the offensive on Sloviansk, a city now controlled by Kiev. In the ‘90s, Girkin allegedly fought for the separatist camp in the conflict in Transnistria. Malofeev is believed to have financed the illegal annexation of Crimea and the separatist insurrection in Donbass. Malofeev has been included on the list of Russian officials against whom both the EU and NATO have taken sanctions.
PURPOSE: Russia is trying to shift the blame for the MH17 plane crash on Ukraine in order to conceal the presence of Russian forces and equipment in the Donbass region and avoid being held accountable for the downing of the plane.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: According to the pre-trial JIT investigation, MH17 was brought down with a 9M38-series missile fired using a “BUK TELAR” installation, transported by the Russian Federation to a wheat field near the village of Pervomayskiy in Eastern Ukraine, used as a site to launch the missile. Later, the launcher was transported back to the Russian Federation with one missile missing. On May 24, 2018, JIT published its final report, stating that the “BUK TELAR” system used to shoot down MH17 belonged to the 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade of the Russian Ground Forces stationed in Kursk.