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NATO demands Russia accepts responsibility for MH17 crash

Luke James
Brussels correspondent
The wreckage of the Malaysian airliner shot down over Ukraine in 2014 (Getty)

NATO has backed calls for Russia to accept responsibility for the MH17 tragedy after investigators concluded the missile which downed the aircraft belonged to the country’s military.

The military alliance, which brings the UK together with the US, Canada and 26 more European states, has thrown its considerable diplomatic weight behind the findings of a Dutch-led investigation into the 2014 crash which killed 298 people – including 10 UK citizens.

The missile launcher used to shoot down the plane in an area of Ukraine held by Russian-backed rebels originated from the 53rd anti-aircraft brigade of the Russian army, investigators revealed yesterday.

Russia has consistently denied involvement in the conflict that was raging in the Donbass region at the time and has insisted that none of its rocket launchers entered Ukraine.

But Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said today that the investigation’s findings provide “irrefutable” proof of the link between the missile and the Russian armed forces.

The Netherlands and Australia called on Russia to accept responsibility for its part in the tragedy and they have received the formal support of NATO and the European Union.

“I call on Russia to accept responsibility and fully cooperate with all efforts to establish accountability,” said NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.

“The downing of MH17 was a global tragedy, and those responsible must be held accountable.”

The damaged missile which grounded flight MH17 is displayed by investigators (Reuters)

As a result of the findings, the Netherlands and Australia have announced they will seek compensation from Russia through an international court.

Their investigation into the incident will continue in a bid to bring the individuals who fired the missile to justice.

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok discussed the latest findings with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Thursday.

Blok described Lavrov as “standoffish” and said he repeated that Russia was not responsible.

A Kremlin spokesman said on Friday that Russia could not trust the investigation’s findings because it had not been a full participant.

Blok pointed out that Russia has refused to cooperate with the criminal investigation.

A US government spokeswoman called yesterday for Russia to “cease its callous disinformation campaign” over the tragedy and take responsibility for its role.