The U.S. State Department has said Russia must be held accountable for shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine in July 2014.
"The United States has complete confidence in the findings of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) as presented today by the Dutch Public Prosecutor: the missile launcher used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 originated from the 53rd Anti-aircraft Brigade of the Russian Federation, stationed in Kursk," Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State Heather Nauert said in a press statement on May 24.
"Today's announcement confirms and adds detail to what we have said from the earliest days of this tragedy: MH17 was shot down by a Russian-made BUK surface-to-air missile fired from territory in eastern Ukraine controlled by Russia and Russia-led forces," reads the report.
"We recall the UN Security Council's demand that 'those responsible… be held to account and that all States cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability.' We call upon Russia, in particular, to respect and adhere to UN Security Council Resolution 2166 (2014). It is time for Russia to cease its lies and account for its role in the shoot down," Nauert said.
She also stressed the U.S. remains confident in the ability of the Dutch criminal justice system to prosecute those responsible in a manner that is fair and just.
"We again extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the victims and call for justice on behalf of the 298 innocent civilians who lost their lives on that day," Nauert added.
UNIAN memo. All 298 people on board flight MH17 were killed when it was struck by a missile on July 17, 2014, and crashed into fields in the part of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russia's proxy forces. Two-thirds of the passengers on the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were Dutch.
The Joint Investigation Team's preliminary report concluded that the plane was shot down by a BUK missile "controlled by pro-Russian fighters". It was also established that the Buk launcher had been brought from Russia and then hastily taken back.
The JIT conclusions have been disputed by Russia claiming that it was the Ukrainian forces who were responsible for the plane's downing.
Prosecutors investigating the downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 said on Thursday they had identified the missile used to shoot down the plane as coming from Russia's armed forces.