Report: Russia leaders sent missile that struck MH17 to Ukraine

The Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site in Ukraine. Source: Twitter/ @mashable. (The Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site in Ukraine. Source: Twitter/ @mashable)

The head of the Russian army and President Vladimir Putin made the decision to send the BUK missile system that shot down flight MH17 to the front in Ukraine. They are therefore responsible for the MH17 disaster, according to international research collective Bellingcat in a report they published on Wednesday, NOS reports. 

Part of the report was already revealed earlier this year. Bellingcat has narrowed the number of suspects down to about 20 Russian soldiers who should know who fired the missile that brought down the Malaysia Airlines flight on July 17th, 2014.

Bellingcat lies the responsibility for the disaster with two people: Russian Defense Minister Sergej Sjojgoe and President Vladimir Putin. They provided the weapon that shot down flight MH17. The weapon system was likely operated by the Russian army, according to Bellingcat.

The research collective could not figure out who actually pressed the button to fire the missile. Though the report does show who transported the missile to the Ukraine - the Second Battalion of the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade. Bellingcat managed to map the structure of this battalion by spying on social media for more than a year and comparing thousands of photos and films. The battalion consists of some 200 soldiers, but Bellingcat narrowed the group directly involved to 20 soldiers. Their names and photos can be found in the report, though they have been made partly anonymous. According to Bellngcat, this group must know who fired the missile.

The Dutch Public Prosecutor hopes to have evidence surrounding what type of missile was used in the attack and where it was fired from by the middle of this year.