It has been nearly five years since a missile brought down passenger flight MH17 over Ukraine. Today the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) announced that four people, three Russians and a Ukrainian, would be charged in the disaster which killed 298 people aboard the flight. From the BBC:
The passenger flight was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down over conflict-hit Ukraine.
Russia said the accusations against its military were “absolutely threadbare”.
International arrest warrants have been issued for the four suspects and a court case will begin in the Netherlands on 9 March 2020…
The most prominent of the four is Igor Girkin (also known as Strelkov), who prosecutors say is a former colonel in Russia’s FSB intelligence service. He was given the minister of defence title in the rebel-held eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk.
He is believed to be the highest military officer in the area who was in direct contact with the Russian Federation. In a statement Mr Girkin said: “I can only say that militia did not shoot down the Boeing.”
The three other individuals are Sergei Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov, and Leonid Kharchenko. None of the four are accused of directly firing the missile that brought down the plane, but they are believed to have helped transport the launcher that was used from the Russian city of Kursk to its eventual location inside separatist-controlled Ukraine.
Today, the investigative site Bellingcat released a new report identifying 12 individuals involved with transporting the missile launcher to Ukraine. Girkin, Dubinsky, Pulatov, and Kharchenko are among them. Bellingcat released this video explaining how it identified some of the people involved through a combination of recorded conversations and social media clues:
The trial will happen next March, but it’s unlikely any of the accused will be present. As the video above makes clear, Putin has already gone on record denying Russia played any role in the downing of MH17, so he will not be turning over any of his people to face justice. Here’s a Sky News report on the announcement of charges.