Recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on the downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine, aiming to discredit the criminal trial and the Joint Investigation Team (JIT). This claim also misrepresents the history and causes of the EU’s sanctions on Russia.
The first EU sanctions against Russia were introduced on 17 March 2014, before MH17 was shot down. The first bans and asset freezes against persons involved in actions against Ukraine's territorial integrity followed Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea. Later, in view of Russia's actions destabilising the situation in eastern Ukraine, the EU imposed economic sanctions in July 2014 and reinforced them in September 2014. In March 2015, the European Council linked the duration of those economic restrictions to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements.
The Dutch-led criminal investigation by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has been ongoing since 2014. The results of the investigation of the Joint Investigation Team are clear: flight MH17 was shot down by a missile from the 9M38 series, which was launched by the BUK TELAR system. The system was transported from the Russian Federation to an agricultural field near the city of Pervomaiskiy in eastern Ukraine, from where the rocket was launched. After firing, the system with one missing missile, returned to the Russian Federation. On 24 May 2018, the JIT announced in its conclusion that the Buk belongs to the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, a unit of the Russian armed forces in Kursk, Russian Federation. The public hearing of the criminal trial over the downing of the flight MH17 started on 9 March 2020 in the Netherlands.
On the basis of the investigation conducted by the JIT, consisting of law enforcement agencies from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, Ukraine and the Netherlands, the Dutch Public Persecution service is prosecuting Igor Vsevolodovich Girkin, Sergey Nikolayevich Dubinskiy, Oleg Yuldashevich Pulatov and Leonid Volodymyrovych Kharchenko for causing the MH17 crash and murdering all 298 persons on board. The Public Prosecution Service alleges that the four individuals cooperated to obtain and deploy the BUK TELAR at the firing location with the aim of shooting down an aircraft. For that reason, they can also be held jointly accountable for downing of flight MH17.
You can see other examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation on the MH17 case in our database, such as claims that JIT tampered with the evidence; that the plane was not downed by a BUK missile, but rather by a Ukrainian fighter; that the plane crash was triggered by an explosion on board; that the trial in The Hague is not justice but information warfare; that Moscow-supplied radar data was rejected; or that the MH17 crash was planned by Ukrainian, American, and Dutch intelligence agencies.