Dutch army was ready to invade Ukraine after MH17 crash: report
Just after flight MH17 was shot down in eastern Ukraine, the Dutch armed forces had concrete plans to enter the country and surround the disaster area - to safeguard evidence and remains, the Telegraaf reports based on an interview with Commander of the Land Forces Martin Wijnen. This is the first time the Ministry of Defense confirms rumors of this mission, according to the newspaper.
The Ministry of Defense became involved very soon after the disaster, the newspaper wrote. The area where the Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down, was in the hands of armed pro-Russian separatists and the Ministry was worried that evidence and remains would be destroyed.
A thousand soldiers from the Netherlands' Airmobile Brigade were on standby to travel to Ukraine and secure the disaster area. They were told to be ready to travel "with only what fits in their backpacks". The plan was that they would take position around the area of the crash and hold it for a few days, so that rescue workers and forensic investigators could do their work. As many soldiers from Australia were also ready to go, according to the newspaper.
Despite the fact that it was summer vacation, Defense did not have a hard time getting a thousand soldiers together, according to the newspaper. Even a soldier holidaying the jungle in South America volunteered to come home for the mission, but was told that he did not have to.
While Defense was still in the midst of preparing for the mission, the politicians in The Hague decided to cancel it. The rebels were cooperating, and they thought the mission unnecessary. After some struggle, the rebels allowed a train full of mortal remains to leave rebel territory for territory that was still in the hands of the Ukrainian government. The human remains were eventually repatriated.
THE MH17 CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION:
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17th, 2014. All 298 people on board, including 196 Dutch, were killed. In June 2019 the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) announced that the criminal trial against the first four suspects in this case - three Russians and one Ukrainian - will start on March 9th, 2020. The trial is expected to take over a year.
Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy, Oleg Pulatov, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko are suspected of playing crucial roles in delivering the missile system that shot down MH17. They will be prosecuted for causing the crash and leading to the death of everyone on board. They are also facing charges of murdering 298 passengers and crew members of MH17.
Investigation by the Dutch Safety Board and JIT previously 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.
In addition to the JIT criminal investigation, the Netherlands was also in talks with Russia about state liability. The Netherlands and Australia officially held Russia accountable for its role in the MH17 disaster - providing the BUK missile system with which the passenger plane was downed.
According to the JIT, Russia was not cooperating with the investigation into the disaster, refusing to respond to requests for legal assistance. “We now have the information, have the proof, that the Russian Federation is involved in this tragedy, in this crime, one way or another.” Dutch Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said in the press conference in June 2019.
Following the announcement of the first four suspects' prosecution, the Russian Federation denounced the "biased, one-sided nature of the inquiry". Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security announced that the Netherlands took "diplomatic steps" against Russia, in an attempt to force the country to cooperate with the JIT.
In February 2020, Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security announced that Russia requested to handle the prosecution of the three Russians suspects. Grapperhaus informed Moscow that this is not an option, he said.