Russia's Zakharova dubs reports on readiness to plead guilty to MH17 crash "fantasy"
Spokesperson for Russia's Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova has dubbed reports about Russia's readiness to plead guilty to the downing of Malaysia's MH17 in eastern Ukraine a "dishonest fantasy."
"A loose interpretation of the statement by the Foreign Ministry as if Russia, by giving consent to consultations [with the Netherlands and Australia], demonstrates readiness to plead guilty to the Malaysian Boeing crash – these are just a dishonest fantasy. The same applies to reports about the possibility of discussing some compensation as a way to atone for the guilt. These are fakes," she said at a briefing in Moscow, according to an UNIAN correspondent in Russia.
She said Australia and the Netherlands, without waiting for the outcome of the investigation, had accused Russia of involvement in the downing of MH17 and demanded a consultation as an ultimatum.
According to Zakharova, the representatives of those countries intended to talk about the legal consequences for Russia, which arise from this "unfounded accusation."
"Let me stress once again – I want some clarity on this issue. Russia agreed to conduct those consultations, when The Hague and Canberra officially, in a diplomatic note, confirmed their readiness to discuss the full range of issues related to the case of the downed Boeing," she said.
According to her, these are questions of Ukraine's responsibility as a state in whose airspace the catastrophe occurred, as well as the use of "data" transferred by Russia to the Joint Investigation Team.
UNIAN memo. Malaysia Airlines' MH17 Boeing 777 heading from Amsterdam for Kuala Lumpur was shot down on July 17, 2014, over militant-occupied territory in Ukraine's Donetsk region. All 298 people on board who were citizens of 10 countries were killed in the crash. The majority of the victims, 196, were citizens of the Netherlands.
The Dutch Safety Board October 13, 2015, issued a report on the causes of the accident. It was revealed that the plane had been shot down by a Buk anti-aircraft missile system. The Joint Investigation Team in its report published on September 28, 2016, confirmed that the plane had been downed by a Russian-made Buk brought to Ukraine from Russia.
No suspects have been named, though Dutch Chief Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said his office had identified 100 "persons of interest" in the investigation, including those who organized the arrival of the rocket and oversaw its transportation from Russia to Ukraine and back.
The criminal investigation into the tragedy is carried out by the Joint Investigative Team (JIT), which includes representatives from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and Ukraine. The countries participating in the MH17 investigation agreed not to create a separate tribunal and decided that the perpetrators would be brought before the Dutch court.
On July 7, 2017, Ukraine and the Netherlands signed an agreement on the establishment of legal grounds for the consideration of the said case.
On May 25, Australia and the Netherlands formally accused Russia of being responsible for downing the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet in 2014.