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MH17 tragedy: Russia formally accused

The international team investigating the downing of a Malaysia Airlines aircraft over Ukraine accuses Russia of responsibility.

A joint statement from Australia and the Netherlands today formally accuses Russia of responsibility for the downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger aircraft in 2014, which killed all 298 people on board, the BBC reports.

As many as 193 of the passengers on board MH17 were Dutch nationals, and the Netherlands has been leading the international investigation into the tragedy.

The plane was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine. On Thursday, the investigative team concluded that the missile belonged to a Russian brigade, but Russia denies involvement.

Besides the 193 Dutch citizens, also on board were 43 people from Malaysia, 27 from Australia and others from Indonesia, the UK, Belgium, Germany and the Philippines.

The team of investigators found that “all the vehicles in a convoy carrying the missile were part of the Russian armed forces”.

“On the basis of the [team’s] conclusions, the Netherlands and Australia are now convinced that Russia is responsible for the deployment of the Buk installation that was used to down MH17,” the Dutch foreign minister, Stef Blok, said.

“The government is now taking the next step by formally holding Russia accountable.”

“Direct involvement”
Blok said in a press conference that the findings “point to direct involvement of Russia”. MH17 was downed by a Russian-made Buk missile, the team concluded, supplied by Russia’s 53rd anti-aircraft brigade.

What comes after this, however, the statement admits, will be the “complex legal process” that comes from holding a country responsible for breaking international law.

Russia has been asked to enter talks as a first step. The case could also be taken to an international court.

“We call on Russia to accept its responsibility and cooperate fully with the process to establish the truth and achieve justice for the victims of flight MH17 and their next of kin,” Blok said.

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