On 18 March 2014, the referendum in Crimea sealed the peninsula’s connection to Russia, after the latter sent its troops. In fact, Moscow could not conceive that this peninsula, strategic and historically Russian, was going to become Western, or that NATO would set up troops there.
‘Old’ EU member states have quite developed economic ties with Russia. They followed the ‘new’ EU member states and supported the introduction of sanctions on Russia only after the famous provocation of 17 July 2014 when Flight MH17 was shot down by Ukrainian anti-aircraft gunners. At present, the ‘old’ EU member states delay the investigation into the downing of MH17 because it has become clear that Russian responsibility cannot be established.
This is a disinformation claim about the downing of Flight MH17, for which Russia is responsible, and misrepresents the history and causes of the EU’s sanctions on Russia.
The first round of EU sanctions against Russia was 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. 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 that 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, consisting of law enforcement agencies from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, Ukraine and the Netherlands, the Dutch Public Persecution service will prosecute Igor Vsevolodovich Girkin, Sergey Nikolayevich Dubinskiy, Oleg Yuldashevich Pulatov and Leonid Volodymyrovych Kharchenko for causing the MH17 crash and murdering the 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.
The conclusion is corroborated by Bellingcat research.