The missile that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was fired from a Russian launcher in an area of Ukraine controlled by pro-Moscow rebels, a Dutch-led team of investigators and prosecutors concluded Wednesday.
The surface-to-air missile hit the Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur killing 298 people in July 2014, breaking it apart in midair and scattering wreckage over several miles of fields.
At the time of the disaster, pro-Russian separatists were fighting Ukrainian government forces in the area.
Witness and social media evidence, along with intercepted communications, allowed investigators to track the Cold War-era Buk launcher being moved from Russia to rebel-held territory in Ukraine then back across the border after the disaster, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) said.
Wilbert Paulissen, head of the Central Crime Investigation department of the Dutch National Police, said: “It may be concluded MH17 was shot down by a 9M38 missile launched by a Buk, brought in from the territory of the Russian Federation, and that after launch was subsequently returned to the Russian Federation.”
The findings refute Moscow’s suggestion that the plane was brought down by the Ukrainian military. On Monday, Russia said it had new data showing the missile did not originate from rebel-controlled territory and said it would turn the data over to investigators.
Russia’s foreign affairs ministry spokeswoman dismissed the entire investigation as “biased and politically motivated.”
Maria Zakharova said in a statement that investigators had “prevented Moscow from fully taking part in the … process.”
“It sounds like an evil joke, but they’ve also made Ukraine a full member of the JIT, giving it the opportunity to fake evidence and twist the situation to its benefit,” she said. “To this day, the investigation continues to ignore irrefutable proof presented by the Russian side, even though Russia is in fact the only country to send reliable information and reveal more and more new data.”