Suspected Russian missile fragments located at MH17 crash site

MH17 A mobile Buk surface-to-air missile launcher, similar to that believed to have been used in the incident

Suspected Russian missile fragments have been retrieved from the MH17 crash site in Ukraine, Dutch investigators have said. This comes after the Russian delegates to the UN Security Council vetoed an international investigation into the crash.

The Boeing 777 was downed over Torez, Doetsk Oblast, Ukraine, on the 17th of July 2014. Many governments have long suspected that the Donbass People’s Militia mistakenly shot down the aircraft using Russian-supplied Buk surface-to-air missiles. All 298 passengers and crew on board were killed in the accident.

“The next step is to establish a fact… if this could be the missile system which downed MH17”, said Chief Investigator Red Westerbeke.

The findings come at a critical time when several governments have accused Russia of interfering with a full investigation. Russia continues to deny involvement in the crash, and the state-owned RT news agency disputes the notion that the fragments come from a Russian missile system.

The investigation is being led by a Joint Investigation Team, a special unit set up by Europol to find definitive cause of the crash of MH17. Joint Investigation Teams are coordinated by Europol, the EU law enforcement agency. This team consists of investigators from Ukraine, The Netherlands, Australia, Belgium as well as Malaysia.

Given the ongoing civil conflict in Ukraine, the investigation has been hampered by a lack of cooperation on both the Ukrainian and rebel sides, however once properly analysed the fragments may be able to paint a more definitive picture of the crash. MH17 crashed more than a year ago and yet this is the first significant breakthrough in the forensic process.

Russian arms manufacturer Almaz-Antey conducted its own review of the crash, and concluded that the plane was shot down using older missile technology – that the Russian military has not been supplied since 1995. This disputes the narrative that the Ukrainian rebels were being given heavy military technology by the Russian central government.

In addition, Malaysian Airlines has sent experts to the Maldives to examine suspected debris from the MH370 plane. This separate incident occurred in March 2014, when a flight from Kuala Lumpur lost contact and vanished during its flight.

Image credit: Wikipedia