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Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized the deployment of air defense systems in eastern Ukraine that included the BUK missile launcher that shot down the July 17, 2014 Malaysia Airlines jetliner (MH17), according to “strong indications” released today by the international team (JIT) investigating that tragedy.
“There are strong indications that in Russia the decision has been made by the president on the provision of the BUK missile system to the separatists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk P.R. (DPR),” the JIT noted, whose conclusion is based on official documents and intercepted conversations in the days leading up to the MH17 tragedy, which left 298 dead.
It further warns that, “after the separatists requested longer-range anti-aircraft weapons, their request was discussed at the Presidential Administration in Moscow in the second half of June 2014.”
The JIT assured that “there is concrete information” that “the separatists’ request was presented to the president”, although “it is unknown whether it explicitly mentioned a BUK system,” but what is clear is that the decision “was positive” and “soon after, heavy air defense systems are delivered, including the BUK that later shot down MH17.”
No court case
The intercepted conversations also provide information about the crew members who operated the missile system installation in question, but the JIT regrets that Russian authorities “are not answering questions about the crew, saying that there was no Russian BUK missile system present” in eastern Ukraine.
However, despite new information about the identity of “several people involved” in what happened, at this point, there is too little evidence to prosecute, Moscow refuses to cooperate, witnesses fear for their lives if they testify, and Putin himself has presidential immunity, they summarize.
They also regret that this situation forces a temporary suspension of the investigation, but does not close the case.
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The JIT is composed of authorities from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine.
Flight MH17, which left Amsterdam for Kuala Lumpur, was shot down by a surface-to-air missile fired from an area controlled by pro-Russian separatist militias and the JIT has already concluded that it was a Russian-made Buk missile that was moved from Russian territory to eastern Ukraine a few days before the tragedy occurred.
On the basis of this investigation, a lawsuit was filed and last November the Dutch judiciary sentenced two Russian nationals, Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinsky, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko to “life imprisonment” for the murder of the 298 people on board MH17.
The trial of these three defendants took place in absentia because Russia refused to hand over the suspects, and they did not recognize the judicial process carried out in the Netherlands.