A nearly two-year Dutch investigation into the 2014 downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine has concluded, and please consider sitting down before you proceed, that Russia and its rebel proxies did the deed. This is…not surprising, though it’s nice to finally have some investigative findings backing up the accusation:
“Based on the criminal investigation, we have concluded that flight MH17 was downed by a Buk missile of the series 9M83 that came from the territory of the Russian Federation,” chief Dutch police investigator Wilbert Paulissen told a news conference on Wednesday.
The missile had been taken from Russia to rebel-held Ukraine in the morning of 17 July, when the plane was shot down, and the launcher was taken back to Russia the next day, he said.
The Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has also narrowed the missile launch site down to a specific field near the village of Pervomaiskyi, which was then in rebel hands.
There’s a more detailed discussion of the investigation’s findings here.
It’s fair to ask why this matters–it has been two years, after all, and the situation in Ukraine has changed quite a bit since then. But whatever else has happened since 2014, murder is still a crime, and shooting down a civilian aircraft is murder. Investigators claim to have identified some 100 people who were involved in some way with the shoot down, and those people could very well face criminal proceedings at The Hague, though obviously it’s unlikely Moscow would acquiesce to any of them actually standing trial. But new targeted sanctions against those people are now a possibility. Russia was concerned enough about this report that, earlier this week, it released new “radar data” showing that Ukraine simply must have been responsible. Once the report was issued Moscow went in to a bit of a rage, calling it “biased” and accusing Ukraine of “falsify[ing] evidence.” So clearly the Russians think it matters.