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EU Marks Anniversary Of Downing Of MH17 Over Eastern Ukraine In 2014

By RFE/RL July 16, 2022

The EU's top diplomat has issued a statement expressing sympathy ahead of the day nearly eight years ago that local separatists working with a missile system deployed by Russian intelligence officials are accused of having shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine.

"The European Union reiterates its full support for all efforts to establish the truth, achieving justice for the 298 victims of the downing of Flight MH17 and their next of kin and holding those responsible to account, in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2166," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in the statement.

The July 17, 2014, tragedy killed all 298 passengers and crew from 10 nations aboard MH17 and prompted a tightening of Western resolve to punish Moscow and support Kyiv's defense against an annexation and creeping threat from Russia.

A low-grade conflict continued until President Vladimir Putin ordered tens of thousands of Russian troops to invade Ukraine in late February.

"Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine is a painful reminder of what happened eight years ago to the 298 people on board Flight MH17 and it strengthens the need to establish accountability," Borrell said.

Prosecutors in the Netherlands have requested life sentences for four Russian and Ukrainian men on charges connected to the downing of the jet with a Russian-made Buk missile.

Russian suspect Oleg Pulatov, a former officer of the Russian Army, in 2014 headed a unit of the Main Intelligence Directorate in a region of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russia-backed separatists.

Pulatov was involved in the transport and protection of a Buk antiaircraft missile system that investigators say fired the missile that brought down the passenger jet. The evidence includes intercepts of telephone conversations of Russian-backed separatists, according to prosecutors.

Pulatov pleaded not guilty in June in a trial of all four in absentia in which a verdict isn't expected until at least November.

The other three defendants are Russians Sergei Dubinsky and Igor Girkin and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko.

Moscow has denied involvement and mostly floated improbable or refutable alternative scenarios for the tragedy.

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/mh17-ukraine-russia- anniversary/31946339.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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