After verdict on MH17 shooting down: Selenskyj accuses Russian leadership

Status: 11/18/2022 7:56 am

Following the MH17 shooting trial, Ukraine welcomes the verdict but holds the Russian leadership equally responsible. She rejects the guilty verdict. Australia accuses Russia of harboring “murderers”.

In his video message on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the sentencing of those responsible for shooting down the MH17 passenger plane a good eight years ago as “very important”. He had previously made it clear on Twitter that he saw the Russian leadership as responsible.

Impunity leads to further crimes, he added, alluding to the Russian war of aggression against his country that started at the end of February.

A Dutch court had previously sentenced two Russian citizens and a Ukrainian in absentia to life imprisonment and to pay compensation of 16 million euros.

The three men are said to have brought a Buk air defense system from Russia to eastern Ukraine and used it to shoot down the passenger plane with flight number MH17. All 298 on board the Boeing, which was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, perished in the crash on July 17, 2014.

Russia rejects verdict as politically motivated

The three convicts are in Russia. From security circles in Moscow it was already said unofficially that they would not be extradited. The Russian leadership had previously rejected the process and always denied responsibility.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has now rejected the Dutch court’s guilty verdict as politically motivated. “Both the course and the results of the negotiations show that it was based on the political mandate to strengthen the version (…) of Russia’s involvement in the tragedy,” the ministry said on its website.

Australian Foreign Minister calls for extradition

Meanwhile, the Australian government has asked Russia to extradite the convicted men. The verdict shows that Russia bears responsibility for the downing, said Secretary of State Penny Wong. “No evasion, concealment or disinformation” could eliminate this fact. Moscow should extradite the three men to face trial for their “heinous crimes.” She told ABC television:

We tell Russia: the world knows you harbor murderers – and that says something about you, Mr Putin.

Malaysia and US welcome verdict

Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said he supported the Dutch court’s decision. The US has also welcomed the guilty verdicts. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Washington that the decision was an important step in ongoing efforts to bring justice to the 298 people.

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