Dutch Prosecutors: Buk missile system that downed MH17 came from Russia on eve of tragedy
A Russian Buk surface-to-air missile (SAM) system was moved from Russia to Luhansk Oblast in Ukraine on the night before Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 on board, Dutch prosecutors have said.
Prosecutors say the Russian Buk was intended to protect Russian proxy forces against attacks by Ukraine’s Air Force, Saskia Belleman, a journalist for Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported on Dec. 20.
Ward Ferdinandusse, a leading prosecutor on the MH17-shootdown case now being tried in The Hague in Netherlands, said that the Buk was moved from the Russian Federation to Ukraine via the Pivnichnyi border checkpoint in the occupied area of Luhansk Oblast on the day before MH17 was shot down.
“It was at a time when a great deal of military equipment was being brought into Ukraine from Russia,” Ferdinandusse said.
The field commanders of the Russian proxy forces, Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinsky, requested anti-air weaponry capable of destroying high-altitude targets, the court was told.
In the weeks prior to the downing of MH17, 12 Ukrainian helicopters and four military transport planes were shot down over Donetsk Oblast. At the same time, high-altitude military jets remained beyond the reach of Russia’s proxies, the prosecution said.
Wiretap evidence presented during the trial suggests Dubinsky specifically requested missiles and a Buk from his Russian handlers:
“The Buk is our only hope, it will solve all our problems once it arrives tonight,” Dubinsky said in a wiretap presented as evidence at the trial of a conversation he had with Oleg Pulatov, the only suspect with legal representation at the trial.
The court is now hearing evidence on the probable route the Buk took before and after it shot down MH17.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, a Boeing-777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down by the Russian military over a non-government-controlled area of the Donbas. There were no survivors among the 283 passengers and 15 crew members.
The Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has concluded that MH17 was downed by a Buk SAM launched from around the city of Snizhne, Donetsk Oblast. Investigators say that the missile system was supplied and delivered to eastern Ukraine by Russia.
In early 2020 Dutch prosecutors charged four individuals in the MH17 case, who are often referred to in evidence materials by their noms de guerre: Sergey “Hmuriy” Dubinsky, Igor “Strelkov” Girkin, Oleg “Guyrza” Pulatov and Leonid “Krot” Kharchenko.
The court in The Hague is expected to deliver its verdict on the case in late 2022.
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