In an interview (archive) with Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad published December 29, 2017 , Dutch chief prosecutor Fred Westerbeke, head of the Joint Investigation Team, stated that at the time MH17 was downed, there was formally not a war. “It was a civil war”
As I reported earlier, a special team of experts part of JIT called ‘Team Internationale Misdrijven (Team International Crimes)” is investigating the conflict. It is important to determine the conditions of the situation in which MH17 was downed. Was it an international armed conflict or a civil war?
The team has been investigating probably since the disaster under what conditions MH17 was downed.
The conditions for a civil war are not well defined. Wikipedia mentions this definition “a violent conflict within a country fought by organized groups that aim to take power at the center or in a region, or to change government policies”.
It can be debated if at July 17 2014 a civil war was going on or an international armed conflict. The definition by the International Committee of the Red Cross of an international armed conflict is ” “an armed conflict exists whenever there is a resort to armed force between States”.
At the time of the downing, Russia did more than just support. Examples of support are supplying weapons, ammunitionetc. However , Russian armed forces in July 2014 were activly involved in war activities. Bellingcat research revealed that a Russian Colonel General named Nikolai Fedorovich Tkachev, currently serving as the Chief Inspector of the Central Military District of the Russian Federation, was involved in transporting a BUK TELAR surface to air missile system to Eastern Ukraine. MH17 was downed by a BUK missile. Likely the BUK TELAR was manned by a crew of the Russian armed forces.
Also the British secret service MI6 concluded:
Russia conducts 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 [Malaysian Airlines flight] MH-17 (an outright falsehood: we know beyond any reasonable doubt that the Russian military supplied and subsequently recovered the missile launcher)
Below are some other examples showing active Russian armed forces involvement.
- Ukraine authorities at July 18 2014 stated in a press conference a Russian Mig-29 downed a SU-25 .
- US Foreign Policy published this article at July 17, 2014. It describes shelling from Russian territory towards Ukraine in early July.
- The US State Department released end of July 2014 satelite images showing shelling originating from Russia towards Ukraine. These images show shelling arond July 20 but extremely likely as Bellingcat concluded, shelling happened before July 17 2014 as well.
- Ukraine Foreign Minister did a briefing to ambassadors in Kiev at July 14. The minutes of meeting by Dutch ambassador say
“Ukraine has extensive evidence that Russia now openly provides military support to the separatists and moves in the open in Eastern Ukraine.