Disinfo: MH17: Russia was found guilty without an investigation into the crash

Summary

Many Western countries led by the United States immediately blamed the militia of the republics and Russia [for the crash of the MH17]. The West used the crash of the Malaysian Boeing as a reason for introducing a new round of anti-Russian sanctions and forcing tension in the international arena over in Ukraine. In addition, Russia was declared guilty without the results of the investigation being presented.

Disproof

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.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 205
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 03/07/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Malaysia, Russia, Ukraine, US, The Netherlands
  • Keywords: Anti-Russian, Sanctions, MH17

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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Amendments to the Constitution of Russia confirm the Russian status of Crimea

The all-Russian vote on the law on amendments to the Russian constitution, which took place from June 25 to July 1, caused a huge stir in the Crimea. Crimeans, as in 2014, confirmed their intention to be part of Russia. The amendment to the constitution “on the protection of the integrity of Russia” forever establishes the Russian status of Crimea making the process of returning Crimea to Ukraine impossible.

Disproof

Pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Crimea.

Both the Crimean “vote” for “joining Russia” in 2014 and the “vote” for amendments to the Russian constitution in Crimea are not recognised by the Western world. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine emphasises that the results of the Russian vote in the Crimea are legally null, have no legal consequences worldwide and are not recognised by Ukraine or the international community.

The West interferes in Russian and Chinese affairs, organises colour revolutions

A recently adopted Hong Kong law eliminates the vulnerability of inadequate countermeasures to colour revolutions, which Western countries are masters at. The intensity of efforts by the collective West to prevent legal amendments in Hong Kong is explained by the reasoning applied by Western puppeteers. Advocates of capitulation to the West are ready to man the barricades and use subversive activities only if they do not face any consequences. “Colour” revolutionaries want money, power, comfort, and social approval. As soon as they are deprived of comfort, the wish to take part in political life runs out to zero.

The West’s attempts to interfere in China’s domestic affairs proves that anti-Russian sanctions allegedly linked to the Crimea referendum, in reality have nothing to do with Russian actions. Inevitable anti-China sanctions linked to Hong Kong will not have anything to do with Beijing’s actions either. Sanctions and interference in Russian and Chinese domestic affairs by the West will take place in any case, convenient excuses will just be used.

Disproof

This is a conspiracy theory consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin narratives about Western influence behind the protests in Hong Kong and the West's anti-Russian activities.The pro-Kremlin media frequently use disinformation narratives about popular protests allegedly incited and  funded by the US around the world, including colour revolutions in post-Soviet states, the “Arab Spring” revolts, Euromaidan in Ukraine, protests in Catalonia and others.

The protests in Hong Kong started in June 2019 when hundreds of thousands of people protested against a legislative proposal that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. The protests continued for months, as they morphed into a battle over Beijing’s deepening control of the city. Protesters demanded electoral reforms and an independent investigation into police violence. Chinese state-run media sought to discredit the protesters, calling their actions “terrorism,” and to spread disinformation.

Russia is world’s best-prepared country to deal with second coronavirus wave

Russia has proven so effective in containing the pandemic that, in the event of a second wave of COVID-19, it will be better-prepared for it than virtually anyone else. They have tests and medicines; they are working on a vaccine; they have built and equipped new hospitals; they have exceptional doctors and a healthcare system which has proven its effectiveness.

All things considered, they are the best in the world.

Disproof

The claim advances recurring pro-Kremlin narratives concerning the coronavirus pandemic and Russian superiority.

As is the case with any other country, Russia's preparedness for a potential second wave of coronavirus is difficult to gauge, given that the pandemic is a new and ongoing crisis. That said, Russia's efficiency so far in containing the pandemic hardly qualifies as "the best in the world."