Kremlin press release four years after MH17 shot down contains many lies

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At July 17, 2018, exactly four years after MH17 was shot down by a Russian BUK missile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation released a press bulletin about MH17.

As usual with Kremlin communication on MH17 and other topics , it has many lies. I will show each lie in this blog.

This lie is one in an extremely long list of lies by Kremlin on MH17. See my posts hereherehere,  here,  herehere here and here.

The statements in the bulletin are marked as quotes below.

Russia has consistently advocated a thorough and objective international investigation into the Malaysian Boeing crash from day one, and took part in drafting UN Security Council Resolution 2166.

Russia fails to add to its bulletin it had used its veto for a resolution for a United Nations international tribunal on MH17. It was the only nation at the 15-member UN Security Council to oppose the move, triggering widespread condemnation. “In order to avoid the risk of politicizing justice, it is best to set up the tribunal before deciding what the circumstances of the crash were,” the Dutch government said. A trial under Dutch law is being prepared. Russia might then criticize  that a Dutch judge is not impartial.

Instead, the Netherlands did not allow Russia to participate in the Joint Investigative Team (JIT)

There is a very good reason to not include Russia as a member in JIT. Because immediately after the shotdown, US intelligence indicated a missile was launched from an area under control by the Russian backed separatists. In May 2018 JIT make public it has enough evidence proving a Russian Armed Forces BUK TELAR was used in the shot down.

There is not a single criminal investigation in this planet where the suspect is part of the criminal investigation team.

all but ignoring essential information that Russia was providing to the investigation during all this time both on a voluntary basis and as part of the legal assistance mechanism.

Nonsense. Fred Westerbeke, the leader of the JIT stated that the results of the test done by Almaz Antey were added to the criminal investigation file.

There is understandable concern over the biased and closed nature of the current investigation, its reliance on social media and unverified open sources, as well as the cooperation with pseudo-investigators from Bellingcat, which is well known for spreading false information.

More nonsense. Ofcoure the criminal investigation, like any criminal investigation, is closed. Only at the trial JIT will present its evidence. Social media is indeed used as evidence. For example the many  videos made by Russian citizens showing the transport of the BUK TELAR from its Russian base to the Ukraine border. Social media is not the only evidence. Dutch investigators for example checked telephone poles in Eastern Ukraine. The Luhansk republic however did not allow this investigation.

The open sources are not unverified. The reason JIT made public in May 2018 the BUK came from Russia, many months after Bellingcat concluded, is JIT needed time to verify the sources used.

Bellingcat is not “well known for spreading false information”. That is a Kremlin framing. Kremlin has been asked many times to provide evidence for this statement. It fails all the time to present evidence.

At the same time, despite clearly being an interested party, Ukraine remains a full-fledged JIT member and, in fact, can influence the outcome of the investigation

Another lie.  Ukraine cannot influence the outcome. Kremlin likely refers to the JIT Non Disclosure Agreement. This NDA is very normal in criminal investigations in which multiple states are involved. The purpose is that only when all members agree, information regarding the ongoing investigation will be made public. This prevents leakage of information in a very complex investigation with conflicting interests. Despite the NDA, Ukraine leaked information like the arena test performed in Ukraine.

Kiev gets away with failing to provide important information such as radar data, information about the location and activity of Ukrainian air defence forces, or records of exchanges between Ukrainian air controllers.

More lies. While Ukraine did not provide primary radar data of radar used by air traffic control, it did provide radar data of a mobile radar unit which was used for testing. Russia after two years finally handed over raw primary radar of a single radar antenna. However in an uncommon format without english manuals. Russia, despite a formal legal assistence request by the Dutch Public Prosection Service, never handed over primary raw data of a second radar station. Russia stated in a July 2014 pressconference that his 2nd radarstation also detected the destruction of MH17.

The Dutch Public Prosecution Service press report mentioned the failure of Russia to hand over radardata  in this PDF.

“In reaction to this latest request, in August 2017 the Russian Federation provided a data set from UstDonetsk
radar station. No data from the Buturinskoe radar station were provided. The data that were
provided relate to radar images of 17 July 2014 during a limited period (16.02 hours – 16.32 hours local
time).”

Dutch Safety Board included in its final report the conversation between Ukraine air traffic controller and the crew of MH17.

In late May, the Netherlands and Australia, without waiting for Russia to respond to the requests for legal assistance in the MH17 case sent by Dutch prosecutors in March, April and May.

This is another lie. Fred Westerbeke, head of JIT, told at the JIT pressconference in May 2018 that JIT had asked a couple of weeks ago to Russia about the whereabouts of the specific BUK which belonged to the 53rd anti-aircraft brigade. Russia did not respond. Earlier, in October 2014 JIT requested Russia to hand over all relevant information.  The anwers by Westerbeke can be heared here. At May 24, the day of the pressconference, JIT handed over the information about the BUK casing and venturi.

By doing so, these two JIT members have demonstrated their unwillingness to continue full-fledged constructive cooperation on the MH17 case, as well as lack of interest in conducting a comprehensive, objective and independent international investigation.

More nonsense. Russia was requested in October 2014 to hand over relevant information about BUKs. They did not. Russia is not cooperating. At July 18, 2018 the G7 urged Russia to cooperate with JIT.

In a statement on the fourth anniversary of the MH17 plane crash, Foreign Minister of Australia Julie Bishop mentioned the proposal by the Netherlands and Australia to enter into a dialogue with Russia to discuss the circumstances that led to the tragic loss of innocent lives. This is precisely what we have been calling for since 2014, but it took four years for our partners to realise that. So much time was wasted.

More nonsense. The Netherlands and Australian state waited for JIT to conclude who is responsible for the downing of MH17.Only if there is legal evidence available, a state can be held liable. This is what happened.

Russia remains committed to Security Council Resolution 2166 and stands ready to assist the investigation in order to establish the truth and hold accountable those responsible for this tragedy.

A lie. Russia does not assist.

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