MH17 Investigators Land on Putin's Name

'Strong indications' he approved the supply of the missile system that took down plane
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2023 8:13 AM CST
MH17 Investigators Land on Putin's Name
People walk amongst the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, July 17, 2014.   (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, File)

It's a bold sounding statement, but not enough to keep their probe into the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 going. On Wednesday, the international Joint Investigation Team said it found "strong indications" that Vladimir Putin made the decision to give the Buk missile system that brought down the plane, killing 298, to Ukrainian separatists—despite Russia's long insistence that it played no part in the downing of the flight. Investigators, citing recorded phone calls involving Russian officials, said "there is concrete information that the separatists' request was presented to the president, and that this request was granted."

But the BBC reports that it wasn't clear whether the request "explicitly" named the Buk system, and so "the high bar of complete and conclusive evidence is not reached," said the JIT in a statement. "Furthermore, the President enjoys immunity in his position as Head of State." As such, the team won't be moving forward with any new prosecutions and their lengthy probe into MH17 has been suspended.

Dutch prosecutor Digna van Boetzelaer said that without Russian cooperation—the country has refused to work with investigators, per the AP—"all leads have been exhausted." (The development comes roughly three months after a Dutch court convicted two Russians and a Ukrainian rebel in absentia for their roles in shooting down the plane.)

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