Probe: Missile That Took Down MH17 Came from Russian Army Unit

Dutch investigators on Thursday present their findings about how a Russian military unit was behind the shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

FILE - In this Tuesday, Sept 9, 2014.

"Not a single air defence missile launcher of the Russian Armed Forces has ever crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border", Russia's TASS news agency quoted the Defence Ministry as saying in a statement.

Malaysia today expressed its commitment to seeking justice for the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

On Thursday, Russia criticized the Joint Investigation Team, or JIT, for relying on claims by Bellingcat.

The JIT has been seeking the identity of the person known as Andrei Ivanovich, with the call sign "Orion", in connection with its global criminal investigation into the MH17 downing.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Friday that Russia has been barred from the investigation and thus could not trust its results.

"We call on Russian Federation to urgently address these conclusions and to cooperate fully with the JIT".

She said the findings could have an impact on Australia's ties with Russian Federation.

It came a day after worldwide investigators concluded that the Russian-made BUK missile, which tore apart the Malaysian Boeing 777 in mid-air on July 17, 2014, came from a Russian military brigade in Kursk.

"What happened over Ukraine with the downing of MH17 reflects the dangers we see when there are a conflict and increased military activities close to our borders", he said.

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Novaya Gazeta reported that the investigators said at the press conference that Ivannikov was known under the name of Andrei Ivanovich Laptev in South Ossetia; he also oversaw Wagner PMC in the Donbas. "He held these functions at the time of the downing of MH17" in July 2014.

After four years of investigation into the downing of MH17, the JIT said the jetliner was shot down by a Russian missile, BUK Telar.

Thursday's presentation went a step further by identifying the exact unit allegedly involved in the transport.

Meanwhile, the investigative site Bellingcat claimed it had identified the second of two men whom the JIT consider top suspects after obtaining wire-tapped conversations before and after the plane was shot out of the sky.

It said Malaysia had consistently called for and supported a fully transparent, independent and exhaustive investigation process.

However, investigators said they could not yet say with certainty that it was the exact missile used to down MH17.

"We hold it responsible under global law for its role in the bringing down of MH17".

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday he had been informed by his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok that "they have practically no doubt that the BUK came from Russian Federation". "We are considering what options are available to us and we'll be working with our partners in other nations".

If the investigation identifies and charges any suspects - and they can be arrested and brought to trial - they will be prosecuted in Dutch courts.

European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement that those responsible for the attack that killed all 298 people on board should be held accountable and said Thursday's conclusion by the Joint Investigation Team showed the missile system in question "belonged beyond doubt to the armed forces of the Russian Federation".

The Dutch government said in a statement that a "possible" next step would be to take the case to an worldwide court or organization.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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