Sunday, December 8, 2019
Dec. 8, 2019

Linkedin Pinterest

Probe finds links between Russia, Ukraine rebels

Investigation into Flight 17’s downing reveals frequent calls

By
Published: November 14, 2019, 8:46pm
2 Photos
FILE - In this July 17, 2014. file photo, people walk amongst the debris at the crash site of MH17 passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, that left 298 people killed. An international team of investigators piecing together a criminal case in the July 2014 shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine said Thursday Nov. 14, 2019, that evidence suggests links between Russia and rebels in the region were closer than previously believed.(AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, File)
FILE - In this July 17, 2014. file photo, people walk amongst the debris at the crash site of MH17 passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, that left 298 people killed. An international team of investigators piecing together a criminal case in the July 2014 shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine said Thursday Nov. 14, 2019, that evidence suggests links between Russia and rebels in the region were closer than previously believed.(AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, File) Photo Gallery

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — An international team of investigators piecing together a criminal case in the July 2014 shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine said Thursday that evidence suggests links between Russia and separatists in the region were closer than previously believed.

The Joint Investigation Team issued a fresh appeal for witnesses and revealed details of secure communications between Russian officials and rebels in the Donetsk People’s Republic rebel group in eastern Ukraine.

“The JIT has information that indicates that the influence of the Russian Federation extended to administrative, financial and military matters in the DPR,” the team said in a statement, adding that contacts between Russia and the rebels intensified in the first half of July 2014.

“There was almost daily telephone contact between the leadership of the DPR and their contacts in the Russian Federation,” the JIT said. “They spoke with leaders in Moscow, near the border with Ukraine and in Crimea. Communication mostly took place via secure telephones provided by the Russian security service.”

Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in the downing and accused the investigation team of bias.

In June, the investigators announced they had charged four people, including three Russians, with murder over the July 17, 2014, downing of Flight MH17. All 298 passengers and crew on board the Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight were killed.

The suspects are due to go on trial in a secure courtroom near Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in March.

Investigators said their probe revealed that “Russian influence on the DPR went beyond military support.”

The team, made up of detectives and prosecutors from the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine, last year said it was convinced that the Buk missile system used to shoot down flight MH17 came from the Russian army’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile brigade, based in the Russian city of Kursk.

Loading...