Australia demands talks with Russia over downed MH17


Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has directly accused Russia of “direct involvement’’ in the MH17 crash.

Australia has accused Moscow of being behind the 2014 shooting down of flight MH17 over war-torn eastern Ukraine with the loss of 298 lives, in a move which may trigger legal action.

The move came a day after international investigators concluded that the Russian-made BUK missile which smashed into the Boeing 777 in mid-air on July 17, 2014, came from a Russian military brigade in Kursk

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Friday accused Russia of "direct involvement" and "being responsible" for the deadly crash, joining the Netherlands in demanding immediate talks with Moscow.

"Based on these findings (of the joint investigation team) the only conclusion we can now reasonably draw is that Russia was directly involved in the downing of MH17," she said.

"Australia and the Netherlands have notified Russian Federation that we hold it responsible for its role in the downing. We have requested negotiations to open dialogue around the circumstances leading to the tragic loss of innocent lives.

"The Russian Federation must be held to account for its conduct in the downing of MH17 over eastern Ukraine which resulted in the tragic death of 298 passengers and crew including 38 who called Australia home.

"Holding the Russian Federation responsible under international law is separate but complementary to the prosecution of the individual suspects which is taking place under the Dutch national system.’’

The Dutch government said in a statement that Australia and the Netherlands may now move towards submitting the complex dossier to an international judge or organisation, it added.

Moscow denies allegations

Moscow has vehemently rejected Thursday's accusations, saying no such weapon ever crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border. It has long placed the blame for the disaster on Kiev.

The Russian foreign ministry denounced what it called an attempt to "discredit Russia in the eyes of the international community".

But investigators, who painstaking recreated the BUK missile system's route from Kursk across the border into rebel-held eastern Ukraine using videos and photos, stood by their findings.

The team "has come to the conclusion that the BUK-TELAR that shot down MH17 came from 53rd Anti-aircraft Missile Brigade based in Kursk in Russia," top Dutch investigator Wilbert Paulissen said.

"The 53rd Brigade forms part of the Russian armed forces," he told reporters Thursday.

Bellingcat identifies 'person of interest'

At a press conference in The Hague, citizen journalist group Bellingcat accused Russian citizen Oleg Vladimirovich Ivannikov of being the person of interest being sought by the Joint Investigating Team (JIT), but knew only by the code names "Orion" and "Andrey Ivanovich".

The group claimed Mr Ivannikov was a Russian officer at the time MH17 was shot down and that he worked undercover in the so-called Luhansk People's Republic.

Bellingcat said he "coordinated and supervised the military activities of Russian militants, pro-Russian separatists and "private army" contingents … [and] also supervised the procurement and transport of weapons across the Russia-Ukraine border".

An independent investigation has named Russian military adviser Oleg Vladimirovich Ivannikov as a person of interest in the downing of MH17.
An independent investigation has named Russian military adviser Oleg Vladimirovich Ivannikov as a person of interest in the downing of MH17.

EU, NATO tell Russia to 'take responsibility'

The EU and NATO have urged Russia to take responsibility for the 2014 downing of flight MH17 after international investigators concluded that a missile which destroyed the plane came from a Russian military brigade.

"The European Union calls on the Russian Federation to accept its responsibility and to fully cooperate with all efforts to establish accountability," the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a separate statement: "I call on Russia to accept responsibility."

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch