Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Thursday he will press Russia to support efforts by the United Nations Security Council to prosecute those responsible for bringing down a Malaysian airliner that crashed over eastern Ukraine in July 2014.
International investigators released findings Wednesday saying the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missiles that was transported into Ukraine from Russia.
Turnbull said in addition to the Security Council, where Russia has used its veto power to block action, the Netherlands could take up its own prosecution of the case.
“Every single one of those murdered victims killed by that missile brought in from Russia, fired with the knowledge of Russia, every single one of them demands justice and we will be tireless in our efforts to ensure that justice is done,” he said.
The findings released Wednesday confirm an earlier investigation by the Dutch Safety Board that concluded Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was brought down by a Russian-made Buk missile, a claim Russia has denied.
“It may be concluded MH17 was shot down by a 9M38 missile launched by a Buk, brought in from the territory of the Russian Federation,” said Wilbert Paulissen of the Dutch National Police.
Paulissen said evidence shows that pro-Russian rebels requested the deployment of the surface-to-air missile to the village of Pervomaysk and reported its arrival in eastern Ukraine.
But Russia has dismissed the Dutch-led investigation as subjective.
“Russia is disappointed that the situation around the investigation of the Boeing crash is not changing,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement. “The conclusions of the Dutch Prosecutor’s office confirmed that the investigation is biased and politically motivated.”
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told the Interfax news agency, “All of the data presented today at the briefing by the investigation team has two main sources: the Internet and security services of Ukraine. Therefore, doubts are bound to be raised over the objectivity of this information, and, correspondingly, the conclusions based on it.”
Zakharova said Russia offered to assist in the investigation but the investigators “removed Moscow from full participation,” relegating Russia to only a “minor role.”
In a move aimed at preempting the new findings, Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters earlier Wednesday that Russian radar data proved that no rocket was fired from within territory held by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.
“The most important thing in today’s report is that the circle is narrowing and perhaps next year the international commission of inquiry will name the perpetrators of the crime,” Bogdan Petrenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian Institute of Extremism, told media. “Probably, after a final conclusion, it will be possible to take the Russian Federation to court. Of course, we are talking first and foremost about the relatives of the victims of the downed Boeing.”
“The investigation, a trial in this case, is very important for Ukraine. It makes it possible to sue Russia according to several international conventions,” political analyst Olesya Yakhno-Belkovskaya told media. “One involves support and financing of terrorism. The results of the investigation of this tragedy are, in particular, proof of Russia’s actions in the east of the country — support and funding of military operations against Ukraine.”
The U.S. Department of State said the findings support Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement days after the attack that the plane was downed by a BUK missile that was launched from an area controlled by Russian-backed rebels.
“While nothing can take away the grief of those who lost loved ones on that tragic day, this announcement is another step toward bringing to justice those responsible for this outrageous attack,” said State Department spokesman John Kirby.
Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels were engaged in intense fighting in eastern Ukraine at the time of the crash.