Ukraine is calling for a criminal investigation following a Dutch report identifying a Russian-made Buk missile as the cause of last year’s Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister said in a United Nations press conference Tuesday. Pavlo Kimkin also called on Russia to cooperate with any future criminal probe.
The 15-month investigation by the Dutch Safety Board claims the Buk missile was fired from an area held by Russian-backed separatists. It also identifies the site where the Boeing 777 crashed in Eastern Ukraine as belonging to the rebels. The July 17 crash killed all 298 on board.
The White House is calling the findings an “important milestone in the effort to hold accountable those responsible,” AP reports.
But Russia is denying the conclusions.
“There is an obvious attempt to draw a biased conclusion, and carry out political orders,” Russian news agencies quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying on Tuesday, Reuters adds.
The missile's Russian-state controlled maker denied these claims in its own report released Tuesday trying to clear Russian-backed separatists or Moscow of any involvement.
Russia's experiments refute Dutch claims the missile was fired from Snizhne, a village that was under rebel control. The Almaz-Antey in June also said that a preliminary investigation suggested that the plane was downed by a model of Buk that is no longer in service with the Russian military but that was part of the Ukrainian military arsenal.
The Dutch investigation additionally found Ukraine should have closed its airspace to civil aviation and found states in civil conflict must do more going forward to protect passenger planes.
“No one at that time was aware… of the possible threat and possible ejection” of sophisticated Russian weapons, Kimkin responded Tuesday. “We couldn’t have imagined” such a situation could even be possible, he added.
The Buk missile exploded less than a meter from the cockpit, the report states. The missile killed three cockpit crew members on impact and broke off the front of the plane. The rest of the crew and the passengers died due to decompression, reduced oxygen levels, extreme cold, powerful airflow and flying objects.
“It cannot be ruled out that some occupants remained conscious" during the 60 to 90 seconds before the plane crashed, the report added.
The Dutch Safety Board shared the report’s conclusions with family of those who died.
Also Tuesday, Dutch investigators unveiled a reconstruction of the forward section of MH17. Some of the nose, cockpit and business class of the Boeing 777 were rebuilt from fragments of the aircraft recovered from the crash scene. Much of the reassembled wreckage was twisted and riddled with holes.