A Russian surface-to-air missile downed Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in July 2014, a Dutch-led independent investigation definitely concluded Wednesday.
The report found that the missile and its launching system were trucked into Ukraine from Russia the day of the shoot-down, and trucked out back to Russia immediately afterwards. The report is particularly damning of Russia, because it limited itself to evidence that could be verified and admitted in a court of law.
Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was blown out of the sky on a routine commercial flight from Amsterdam To Kuala-Lampur, killing all 298 civilians on board.
The report refutes Russian claims that no missile existed. Russia has resorted to touting conspiracy theories for the cause of the shoot-down, including one that the CIA filled a plane with fake bodies and crashed it to discredit Russian separatists in Ukraine.
Russia tried to head off the report’s release by supposedly rediscovering radar data it had “lost,” and republishing it in an attempt to show a course correction by MH17 before it came down. This new radar data actually contradicted Russia’s own map released four days after the incident.
“It’s now clear that on July 21st 2014, only a few days after 298 were killed in Ukraine, the Russian Defence Ministry presented to the world a series of clearly fabricated evidence and claims, and even the Russian Defence Ministry’s own evidence proves that is the case,” open-source intelligence analysts Bellingcat noted in a debunking Monday.
The U.S. government concluded a Russian made Surface to Air missile downed the plan just days after the investigation. The U.S. pointed to concerted Russian support to separatists in Eastern Ukraine, where they are engaged in a protracted war with the Ukrainian government. Russian support includes sending its own soldiers in unmarked uniforms, under the guise of being “volunteers.”
The report found phone conversations between separatists and Russian government officials, requesting the missile launching system the day before the shoot-down.
Experts speculate that Russian-backed separatists, who thought they had shot down a Ukrainian fighter aircraft, downed the plane by mistake. Prior to the incident, Russian backed rebels downed three Ukrainian fighter aircraft with Russian missile technology.
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