Investigators have for the first time directly linked the Russian military to the attack on Flight MH17

  • Investigators formally accused the Russian armed forces of involvement in the attack on a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet in 2014.
  • Flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people.
  • Official investigators said Thursday that the missile came from a launcher that is part of the Russian military’s 53rd antiaircraft missile brigade.
  • The statement is the closest yet investigators have come to blaming Russia for the attack.

International investigators have said Russia’s military was involved in shooting down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over Ukraine in 2014.

Flight MH17 crashed in a field in war-torn eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, after being hit by a Russian-made Buk missile on a flight from the Netherlands to Malaysia. All 298 people aboard the aircraft were killed.

The MH17 Joint Investigation Team issued an interim report Thursday. At a press conference, the team said the missile came from the Russian military’s 53rd antiaircraft missile brigade, based in Kursk, near Russia’s border with Ukraine.

Kursk ukraineGoogle Maps/Business Insider

The team cited distinctive identifying marks on recovered missile fragments that it says ties it directly to the 53rd brigade, which is based close to the Ukrainian border.

“All the vehicles in a convoy carrying the missile were part of the Russian armed forces,” Wilbert Paulissen, a senior investigator with the Dutch National Police, told the conference.

Screen Shot 2018 05 24 at 14.02.57Dutch National Police/YouTubeThe Joint Investigation Team examined the markings on the on the recovered missile fragments.
Screen Shot 2018 05 24 at 14.02.45Dutch National Police/YouTube

The statement is the closest yet investigators have come to blaming Russia for the attack. The investigators also brought to the conference part of the Buk missile they say caused the crash:

Of the passengers and crew members aboard the Boeing 777 plane, 196 were Dutch and about 40 were Malaysian, with others from Australia, Indonesia, and the UK.

Investigators have not named any suspects and have called on people involved in the attack to come forward for questioning.

The Dutch government announced last year that anyone believed to have brought down the jet would be tried in the Netherlands.

Open-source investigators at Bellingcat came to the same conclusion as the Joint Investigative Team three years ago, but the JIT had different legal requirements and thresholds for evidence and therefore needed more time.

Russia has continually denied involvement in the downing of the jet.

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