Disinfo: Mystery of the downing of MH17 remains unsolved

Summary

The mystery of the crash of the Boeing 777 of Malaysia Airlines remains unsolved. The international investigation led by the Netherlands continues and Russia denounces it as biased, accusing investigators of neglecting the evidence it provides. In autumn 2016, the Russian aeronautical authority, Rosaviatsia, provided radar data showing that no missiles had been launched from the rebel-held areas on the day of the crash. The Dutch said that the Russian radar was unable to locate a relatively small object the size of a missile. In response, Oleg Stortchevoy, head of Rosaviatsia, rejected this claim, adding that the radar station could detect objects much smaller than a BUK missile. In September 2018, the Russian Ministry of Defence held a press conference presenting documents demonstrating that the missile at the origin of the tragedy belonged to Ukraine and was produced in 1986. Russia claimed to have been able to reconstruct the history of the missile with serial number 8868720. It was produced in a factory in the Moscow region in 1986, before being delivered to a Ukrainian military unit, according to documents submitted by the Russian Defence. Ukraine, which had decided not to close its airspace in a conflict region, escapes international condemnation.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about the downing of the MH17. Regarding the Russian version of events, the claims by Buk manufacturer Almaz-Antey were debunked already in 2015 by Bellingcat. The evidence conducted by the Russian military company Almaz-Antey is only a small sample of misleading claims and conspiracy theories advanced by Moscow since 2015, many of which have contradicted one another. See previous debunking of these claims here, here, and here, and a summary of disinformation narratives on this case here. The criminal investigation in the case was led by the Joint Investigation Team - JIT - since in 2014. On 28 September 2016, the JIT announced that flight MH17 was shot down by a missile from the 9M38 series, which was launched by a BUK TELAR missile system. The system was transported from the Russian Federation to an agricultural field near the town of Pervomaiskyi in Eastern Ukraine, from where the missile was launched. After firing, the system - with 1 missing missile - went back to the Russian Federation. On the 24th of May 2018, the JIT announced its conclusion the BUK TELAR used to shoot down MH17 came from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, a unit of the Russian armed forces from Kursk in the Russian Federation. On the basis of the investigation conducted by the JIT, the Dutch Public Persecution service will prosecute Igor Vsevolodovich Girkin, Sergey Nikolayevich Dubinskiy, Oleg Yuldashevich Pulatov, and Leonid Volodymyrovych Kharchenko for causing the crash of the MH17 and murdering the 289 persons on board. The public hearing is scheduled for March 9, 2020 in the Netherlands. The statement "Donbas was then, and still is, the scene of sporadic fighting between the Ukrainian army and the rebels who refuse to recognise the government resulting from the coup of 2014" is also untrue. There was no coup d’état in 2014. The spontaneous onset of massive Euromaidan protests was a reaction of the Ukrainian population to the sudden departure of President Yanukovych from the Association Agreement with the European Union and to the brutal dispersal of student protest actions on 30 November 2013. For more background about the ongoing pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign about MH17, see here, here and here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 159
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 17/07/2019
  • Outlet language(s) French
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Malaysia, The Netherlands, Ukraine, Russia
  • Keywords: MH17
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Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about NATO and US presence in Europe. On 4 April 1949, the foreign ministers from 12 countries, including the United States, signed the North Atlantic Treaty creating NATO. At the heart of the Alliance has always been collective defence and security of all its members. All NATO decisions are made by consensus, after discussion and consultation among member countries. Allies decide whether to engage in a crisis management operation on a case-by-case basis and by consensus.

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Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine and the war in Ukraine. The EU condemns the clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014. The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court recognised that “the information available suggests that the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol amounts to an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation". The international armed conflict began at the latest on 26 February 2014 when the Russian Federation deployed members of its armed forces to gain control over parts of the Ukrainian territory without the consent of the Ukrainian Government. The European Union stated in July 2014 that "arms and fighters continue flowing into Ukraine from the Russian Federation". At the NATO Summit in Wales in September 2014, NATO leaders condemned in the strongest terms Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine and demanded Russia to stop and withdraw its forces from Ukraine and from the country’s border. NATO leaders also demanded Russia to comply with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities; refrain from aggressive actions against Ukraine; halt the flow of weapons, equipment, people and money across the border to the separatists; and stop fomenting tension along and across the Ukrainian border. In 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted Russia's military presence in Ukraine.

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Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about the war in Ukraine. It was not the European Union, but Russia, which provoked military conflict in Ukraine, so the EU cannot end the conflict without Russia's involvement. In March 2015, the European Council linked the duration of EU sanctions to Russia to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements, acknowledging Russia's responsibility to uphold the Agreements. Overwhelming evidence confirms that Russia is sending mercenaries to Donbas. The European Union stated in July 2014 that "arms and fighters continue flowing into Ukraine from the Russian Federation", and continues to condemn clear violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces. Moreover, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted Russia's military presence in Ukraine in 2015. The European Union continues to support independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as the reform process within the country.