Netherlands soon to start talks with Russia over MH17 liability
The Netherlands and Australia will start talks with Russia about the country's liability in the downing of flight MH17 in the coming weeks, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed to NU.nl after reports in RTL Nieuws.
"We are in contact with Russia through diplomatic channels about state accountability. We are increasingly confident that we will soon be meeting with the Russians", the spokesperson said. The Ministry would not say anything about the date and location of the consultation.
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. 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 last year.
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. In October the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it is willing to discuss MH17 liability with the Netherlands, "partly with the goal of looking professionally at the responsibility of Ukraine".
Holding countries liable is a complicated legal process. In this case, the Netherlands and Australia holding Russia liable for its role in the MH17 disaster is separate from the criminal investigation and the possible prosecution of the perpetrators. If the three countries fail to reach an agreement on Russia's liability, the Netherlands and Australia can take the matter to an international court.