Russia leaves MH17 talks with Netherlands, Australia for anti-Moscow bias
Iran Press TV
Friday, 16 October 2020 8:32 AM
The Dutch and Australian governments have urged Russia to return to negotiations over its alleged involvement in the 2014 downing of a Malaysian Airline flight over Ukraine after Moscow withdrew from the talks while accusing it of being "biased" and "politicized" against Russia.
Russia's foreign ministry declared on Friday that it was abandoning the discussions with the Netherlands and Australia, saying they were not genuinely interested in establishing the truth about what really happened over a war zone and had rather initiated legal proceedings against Moscow in efforts to collect reparations for the mostly Dutch and Australians passengers of the doomed flight.
The MH17 was flying from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down by a missile, allegedly fired from territory controlled by independence seeking Ukrainian fighters during combat with government forces in eastern Ukraine, according to international investigators. All 298 people on board -- two-thirds of them Dutch nationals -- were killed.
After years of collecting evidence, a Dutch-led international Joint Investigation team (JIT) claimed last year that the missile launcher used to shoot down the passenger plane came from a Russian army base just across the border.
Moreover, Netherlands has blamed Russia for the crash and launched legal action against Moscow at the European Court of Human Rights. It is prosecuting four individuals -- three Russians and a Ukrainian -- for striking the aircraft and killing everyone on board, despite conceding that they only played a role in transferring the launcher into the battle area but had no role in pulling the trigger.
Moscow, however, has always persistently denied any involvement in striking the passenger plane, blaming military forces of the Western-backed government in Kiev for the incident.
"It is a disappointment and also a surprise," Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said in response to Moscow's decision to withdraw from the probe.
"I cannot exclude any actions (against Russia) for now," Blok threatened, adding: "But first and foremost is my invitation to the Russians to come back to the negotiating table."
He further insisted that the development "must especially be a disappointment for the relatives" of the victims, claiming that "this venue towards truth and justice for now has been blocked" by Moscow.
The Russian foreign ministry, however, described the Dutch-led investigation into the crash as "biased, superficial and politicized."
"Australia and the Netherlands did not seek to understand what really happened in the summer of 2014, but instead were aiming to get Russia to admit guilt and receive compensation for the victims' relatives," the ministry further emphasized.
Meanwhile, the JIT also includes Australia, Belgium and Malaysia, which lost citizens in the tragedy, as well as Ukraine.
Thirty-eight Australians and 196 Dutch citizens were among the passengers on the plane when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region.
Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne also stated on Friday that she was "deeply disappointed" by the Moscow's decision to leave the talks.
"We urge Russia to return immediately to the talks," she declared in a statement, adding Australia was "committed to pursuing truth, justice and accountability for the 298 victims of MH17 and their loved ones."
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba also censured Russia's withdrawal from the talks, saying it "speaks volumes about its fear of the truth about what happened on July 17, 2014 in the skies over Donbass."
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