PETALING JAYA: A London-based investigative website claims that the Russian military is directly responsible for the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine.
Bellingcat said this “key fact” was stated in “absolute terms” in the annual report of the British Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.
It referred to a British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) source who was quoted as saying that Russia conducted information warfare on a massive scale.
“An early example of this was a hugely intensive, multi-channel propaganda effort to persuade the world that Russia bore no responsibility for the shooting down of [Malaysia Airlines flight] MH-17 (an outright falsehood: we know beyond any reasonable doubt that the Russian military supplied and subsequently recovered the missile launcher),” the source said.
Although it was widely acknowledged in the aftermath of the tragedy that the BUK missile which downed the flight was of Russian origin, Bellingcat said any direct accusation at the Russian military had always been avoided.
“Western governments and the Dutch-led criminal investigation into the tragedy, the joint investigation team (JIT), have been reluctant to outright name the Russian military as the responsible party for providing the murder weapon for the downing, and even more reluctant to name the Russian military as the actors who carried out the shootdown.
“While the latter concern is understandable, as there is still no direct evidence placing specific active Russian servicemen with the BUK at the time of the downing, there is no reason to avoid naming the Russian military as the guilty party in providing and retrieving the BUK missile launcher,” it said.
Flight MH17 was shot down over Donetsk in eastern Ukraine en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
All 298 passengers and crew members on board were killed.
Authorities concluded the plane was shot down by a Russian-made ground-to-air rocket. Moscow however denied that any of its rockets could have been used.
Earlier this month, a Ukrainian court ordered the arrest of a Russian army veteran suspected of involvement in the downing.
The Kyiv Post said Sergey Dubinsky was suspected of arranging the movement of the BUK missile launcher into Ukraine.
His voice is also allegedly heard in phone calls intercepted by the Security Service of Ukraine, telling Russian-led soldiers where to take the BUK.
On Dec 10 meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald said a semi-retired Russian general had been identified as the person monitoring the cross-border movements of the rocket launcher.
The three-star general was identified as Nikolai Fedorovich Tkachev.
His identification was achieved in the course of an investigation by a team of reporting outlets made up of McClatchy news in the US, Bellingcat and fellow investigative website The Insider, which is based in Moscow.