Putin likely armed rebels who downed MH17 jetliner, probe finds

There are “strong indications” that Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the green light to provide Russian separatists in Ukraine with the missiles used to down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, according to international investigators, who nevertheless decided to suspend their probe into the incident. 

Using phone taps, it was possible to prove that Putin was personally involved in the decision to supply the Donetsk People’s Republic separatists with anti-aircraft weaponry, the investigators said during a press conference in The Hague on Wednesday. They said, however, that they cannot confirm the rocket launcher used to down the plane was among that arsenal of weapons. 

The Dutch government has held Russia liable for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which led to the deaths of all 298 people on board the Boeing 777 in 2014. In November two Russians and a Ukrainian citizen were found guilty by a Dutch court of carrying out the deadly attack in 2014.

A Kremlin spokesperson was not immediately available to comment. Russia rejected as ‘scandalous’ the findings of the November ruling. 

Judges in the Hague ruled that Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Ukraine national Leonid Kharchenko caused a missile attack. Most of the victims of the flight en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were Dutch citizens.

Nevertheless, the investigators on Wednesday decided to suspend the probe after it concluded there was insufficient evidence to lead to new prosecutions. The Netherlands will continue to call the Russian Federation to account for its role with the downing of the flight, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a statement on Twitter. 

“The Dutch state remains as committed as ever to the international proceedings it has instituted to establish the truth and achieve justice and accountability,” said Rutte. –BLOOMBERG