Russia willing to discuss MH17, still blaming Ukraine
Russia for the first time said it is willing to talk to the Netherlands and Australia about the flight MH17 disaster in a statement the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs made to RTL Nieuws.
In May the Netherlands and Australia officially held the Russians accountable for their role in the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight - providing the BUK missile system that shot down MH17 - and requested a consultation. This is the first time that Russia publicly stated that they want to talk, though they're still pointing the finger of guilt at Ukraine.
"We are prepared to discuss with the Netherlands and Australia the entire complex of problems associated with the investigation into the 'MH17 case', partly with the goal of looking professionally at the responsibility of Ukraine", the Russian Foreign Ministry said to RTL Nieuws.
Behind the scenes there has been contact between the Netherlands and Russia about accountability for the MH17 disaster, a spokesperson for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs said to the Telegraaf. "Because we do not want to harm the process, we can not respond to every diplomatic step." At a UN summit in New York last month, Minister Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs expressed hope that these negotiations with Russia will start "in the foreseeable future".
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.
In September 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. The country also repeatedly called the investigation into the disaster biased and unreliable.