Netherlands, Australia to discuss MH17 accountability with Russia
The Netherlands and Australia want to start negotiating with Russia "in the foreseeable future" about the country's accountability in the downing of flight MH17, Minister Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs said after meeting with his Australian colleague Marise Payne in New York, NOS reports.
Australia and the Netherlands officially held Russia accountable for its role in the MH17 disaster - providing the missile that shot down the plane - in May of this year. The two countries then also asked Russia for a meeting to discuss the country's liability. Now they are in contact with Russia through diplomatic channels, Blok said.
Earlier in the day Blok and Payne also met with their colleagues from Malaysia, Ukraine and Belgium, the other three countries in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that is investigating the disaster. They talked about the criminal investigation into the perpetrators responsible for the downing. "Today it again appeared that the JIT countries are united in their goal: to discover the truth about MH17 and to prosecute the perpetrators. In this the independent investigation of the JIT receives our unconditional support", Blok said.
Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17th, 2014. All 298 people on board, including 196 Dutch, were killed. Investigation by the Dutch Safety Board and the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) so far revealed that the Malaysian Airlines flight was shot down by a BUK missile system from the 53rd Anti-aircraft Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces, fired from a field in Ukraine that was under the control of pro-Russian separatists at the time.
The JIT tracked a convoy of nearly 50 military vehicles, including the BUK that shot down MH17, from a 53rd Brigade parking area in Kursk to the border of Ukraine between June 23rd and 25th, 2014 - a few weeks before MH17 was shot down.
Last week Russia held a press conference in which the country said that the BUK missile was indeed made in Russia, but was in Ukrainian hands at the time of the disaster. Russia has been pointing the finger to Ukraine since the disaster happened.