Netherlands – The Dutch Safety Board revealed that the July 2014 crash of a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane over eastern Ukraine, was caused by a missile from a Russian-made Buk system. The missile was fired from an area controlled by Russian separatists. Details on who fired the surface-to-air rocket will be published early in 2016.
Several have been the theories that have tried to find the responsible of the tragic event that took the life of 298 people. Up to now, the report blames Ukraine’s government for failing to close the airspace above the eastern part of the country (where the plane crashed) while forces loyal to Kiev fought Russian-backed separatists on the ground.
On the other side, Russia asked the Dutch Safety Board to look for other scenarios, such as the possibility that Flight MH17 was struck by an air-to-air missile, but their scenarios were rejected and considered as baseless.
“Flight MH17 did not crash as a result of meteor strikes. We have excluded the possibility of the airplane itself having any technical defect or that of a bomb exploding inside the aircraft,” said Tjibbe Joustra, chairman of the Dutch Safety Board, dismissing other scenarios presented by Russia, as stated by the LA Times.
However, Russia did not settle back. Hours before the Dutch report, a state-controlled missile-maker in Russia said its own investigation showed that the damage pattern in the plane did not match with the damage caused by the weapons found in Moscow, and that the missile was fired from an area under the control of Ukrainian government forces, not the separatists.
According to a report from the Associated Press, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that the “attempt to make a biased conclusion, in essence to carry out a political order, is obvious.”
On the other side, Ned Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said the U.S. remained convinced that the Russian-backed rebels were responsible. “Our assessment is unchanged: MH17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile fired from separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine,” Price said in a statement.
The findings were presented by Joustra at a news conference at Gilze-Rijen Air Force Base in the Netherlands. To come to these conclusions, Joustra said the board had first to reconstruct the front of the downed airliner from rests recovered from the crash site.
The microphones around the cockpit detected a “sound peak” before a deep silence, which allowed analysts to determine where the explosion occurred. According to the report, the Russian-made missile detonated within about 3 feet off the cockpit, just above and to the left of the nose of the Boeing 777.
The plane broke apart in the air, with the tail falling to earth first and then the central section with the engines, which landed upside down and caught fire.
As of why the report has criticized Ukraine authorities, Joustra said that there were 160 flights over the area on the day of the crash. “Almost all operators were flying over that area, and why? Because nobody thought that civil aviation was at risk,” he said. “There was sufficient reason to close the airspace above the eastern part of Ukraine as a precaution. The Ukraine authorities failed to do so.”
The Dutch-led investigation team had participants from Russia, Ukraine, the United States and three other countries.