MH-17: Remembering the Dead Six Years Later

As the Dutch Government Brings Russia to Trial, We Look Back on the MH-17 Tragedy

It was one of the most devastating air disasters in history and it wasn’t an accident.

Six years ago, 17 July 2014, flight MH17 was downed after a Buk surface-to-air missile from territory controlled by pro-Moscow Ukrainian rebels struck it. All 298 people on the flight were killed, including at least 173 Dutch nationals. 

In mid-July of this year, the Dutch government decided to take Russia to the European Court of Human Rights as a way to hold them accountable for this horrific tragedy.

“Achieving justice for 298 victims of the downing of Flight MH17 is and will remain the government’s highest priority,” Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok stated. “By taking this step today – bringing a case before the European Court of Human Rights and thus supporting the applications of the next of kin as much as we can – we are moving closer to this goal.”

As Dutch prosecutors present indisputable proof of Russia’s guilt, Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, described the trial as a step as “another blow” to the relationship between Russia and the Netherlands.

“The Hague took this path from the very beginning of placing all blame on Russia for the crash of Flight MH17,” Ms. Zakharova said in a statement.

That would be because Russia is to blame.

In November 2019, the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) announced it possessed evidence that in the months before the tragedy, the Russian Federation had exerted administrative, financial, and military control over the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (a.k.a. the DNR)…the territory from which the Buk missile was launched.

Further investigative work by journalists at Bellingcat and The Insider, identified those involved. One of those identified was “Vladimir Ivanovich”, or FSB Colonel General Andrey Ivanovich Burlaka.

As the pieces started to come together, there was no hiding who was responsible. Russia. And yet, Russia refuses to extradite its citizens who have been implicated in the bombing. The Ukrainian charged is
believed to have acquired a Russian passport. As a result, the four suspects are
being tried in absentia in a Dutch court.

Dutch citizens have lost so much and Russia must be held accountable.

For the loss of Dutch Senator Willem Witteveen. For the loss of  noted AIDS researcher Joep Lange and his many colleagues. For the loss of all 298 lives, taken by Russian incompetence and their total disregard for the lives of Europeans.

It is time for Russia to pay for this atrocity. Not just with financial payments but with accountability for the violence and terror they bring to Europe due to their constant grab for power at all costs.

Ms. Zakharova was right. This is another blow to the relationship between Russia and the Netherlands. It should be a blow to the relationship between Russia and the rest of the world. It’s time for all of Europe to hold Russia accountable.

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