THE BLOG
09/28/2016 06:08 pm ET Updated Sep 29, 2017

Crash In Ukraine: War Crime, Stupidity Or Both?

A Dutch-led investigation team said it had "irrefutable" evidence that a Russian-built missile shot out of the sky a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people, 193 of them Dutch citizens.

It said the launch was in an area controlled by pro-Russian fighters battling the Ukraine government since early 2014.

The report, two years after the July 17, 2014 crash was labeled an "interim report". No one has been accused and Dutch investigators are still trying to establish who gave the orders for the firing. They urged witnesses to come forward.

At the United Nations, the Security Council two years ago took up the issue but no one expected a meaningful resolution with Russia having veto power. Moscow had rejected an international tribunal to investigate the disaster.

The Dutch document said in part:

"The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is convinced of having obtained irrefutable evidence to establish that on 17 July 2014, flight MH-17 was shot down by a BUK missile from the 9M38-series. According to the JIT there is also evidence identifying the launch location that involves an agricultural field near Pervomaiskyi which, at the time, was controlled by pro-Russian fighters...

"The system was transported from Russian territory into eastern Ukraine and was later transported on a white Volvo truck with a low-boy trailer. The truck was escorted by several other vehicles and by armed men in uniform."

Previously, the United States and others had documented the deployment of the Buk or SA-11 missile. Russia has denied it and has given a series of explanations, including that the Ukraine itself was responsible.

Ukraine does have Buk missiles but of a different type than Russia, according to the latest evidence.

The attack on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a Boeing 777 occurred while the aircraft was flying from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

Stupidity?
The most likely theory is that the separatists thought the aircraft was a Ukrainian military plane and not a passenger airliner, which still makes it a crime. Such stupidity is not limited to the anti-Kiev rebels.

For example, in July 1988, the U.S. Navy shot down Iran Air Flight 655 down, killing all 290 aboard, one of the deadliest disasters in aviation history. The USS Vincennes mistook it for a fighter plane.

Then in 1983 Korean Airline flight 007 was shot down by Soviet aircraft after it veered off its course, flew into Russian airspace over some military installations. It was apparently mistaken for a U.S. reconnaissance flight. All 269 people were killed.

In the Ukraine, evidence then and now included images said to be a surface-to-air missile launcher in the area. An analysis of voice recordings of pro-Russian rebels revealed they were asking Russia for the missile, the report said.

80 dead children
In addition to the 193 Dutch fatalities, the dead included , 43 Malaysians (including 15 crewmembers and two infants), 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, 10 Britons (including one dual U.K./South Africa citizen), four Germans, four Belgians, three Filipinos, one Canadian and one New Zealander, according to the flight manifest released by Malaysia Airlines. There were 80 children aboard.

In response to the latest finding, Moscow's defense ministry released what it said were radar data suggesting MH17 was shot down by a missile, but not one fired by Russian-backed rebels.

At the Russian foreign ministry, spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow was not permitted to join the investigative team and thereby Ukraine was allowed to fabricate evidence.

Russia says:
According to Zakharova:

"Instead of [working together], international investigators suspended Moscow from comprehensive participation in the investigative process, allowing our efforts only a minor role. It sounds like a bad joke, but at the same time they made Ukraine a full member of the JIT [Joint Investigation Team], giving it the opportunity to forge evidence and turn the case to its advantage,

"To this day, the investigators continue to ignore the overwhelming evidence provided by the Russian side, despite the fact that Russia is the only side that submits accurate information and constantly discloses new data."

In Moscow's view, the pro-Western rebellion in Kiev in 2014 was a challenge after decades of NATO expansion to Russia's border and apprehension that Ukraine may join the Western alliance, starting with European Union ties.

In response, armed men in the Donetsk and Luhansk seized government buildings, police and special police stations in several cities and held unrecognized referendums. The insurgency was led by Russian emissaries and later included Russia soldiers.