Remembering What Was Forgotten in Helsinki: Russia’s Downing of Flight MH17
[Please scroll down to the bottom to read what the father of three children who perished aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 has to say to president Trump]
Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine by a Russian missile on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 souls on board. The passenger aircraft was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and was shot down over eastern Ukraine, during the open conflict between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed troops.
Of the 298 people on board the ill-fated flight, 193 were Dutch — a loss of life disproportional to the population of the small country of The Netherlands.
This article described how that small country has suffered other immense tragedies and how the stoic Dutch were coping with this latest one.
A Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has been conducting a criminal investigating of the tragedy for four years and recently concluded that the missile originated from a Russian military unit based near the border with Ukraine.
In May of this year the Netherlands and Australia formally blamed Russia’s government for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 after the JIT declared the missile that struck the jet originated from the Russian military.
The Dutch government has said it “may send the case to an international court if talks it has proposed with Russia to ‘do justice to the tremendous suffering and damage caused’ by the flight’s downing were unsuccessful,” according to NPR.org
It is not known at this time if Trump broached this horrific Russian crime with Putin in Helsinki and we may never know. Trump did not do so publicly, although the somber anniversary was on everyone’s mind.
However, the U.S. State Department had plenty of opportunity to speak up about it.
But, in contrast to what it has done every year since the downing of Flight MH17, State has been conspicuously silent this year.
According to Foreign Policy, officials at State had prepared a draft statement sharply critical of Russia for its alleged role in the attack, but “for reasons the State Department has not explained, it was never issued.”
Part of the unreleased statement said:
Four years after the downing of MH-17, the world still awaits Russia’s acknowledgement of its role. The United States has complete confidence in the findings of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), including those announced on May 24, 2018, and in the JIT’s ongoing work. Based on an extensive compilation of images and other evidence, the JIT provided conclusive evidence that the BUK Transporter Erector Launcher (TELAR) from which the missile that downed MH-17 was fired, came from Russia’s 53rd Anti-aircraft Missile Brigade, a unit of the Russian army. Like a fingerprint, the combination of matching characteristics derived from the JIT’s images clearly and conclusively proves that the BUK TELAR that downed MH-17 came from the 53rd Brigade in Russia, was brought into sovereign Ukrainian territory from Russia, was fired from Russia-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine, and was then returned to Russian territory.
It is time for Russia to cease its callous disinformation campaign and fully support the next investigative phase of the JIT and the criminal prosecution of those responsible for the downing of flight MH-17. We will never forget the 298 innocent civilian lives tragically lost on that day, and we call for justice on their behalf.
The question arises whether the Helsinki meeting between Trump and Putin may have had something to do with the State Department’s silence.
On Sunday, The G7 foreign ministers, which includes the US, issued a statement condemning the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which State posted on its web site only today “after being asked about the issue by FP” and in doing so misrepresented the date the G-7 issued the statement.
Regardless, we join the G-7 in their expression of condolences and resolve:
We express once again our deepest condolences to the families of the victims of MH17. We stand together against the impunity of those who engage in aggressive actions that threaten the rules-based international order, anywhere, anytime, and under any circumstances.
In a tragic and damning footnote, the Washington Post reports on a message posted yesterday on Facebook by Anthony Maslin, the father of three children who were killed on Flight MH17, their photo is below.
The message directed at Trump reads:
Mr. Trump, you invented and speak a lot about “fake news”. But let’s try talking about something that’s not fake… let’s call them irrefutable facts.
That passenger flight MH17 was shot out of the sky and 298 innocent people were murdered is an irrefutable fact.
That the plane was hit by a Russian missile has been proven to be an irrefutable fact.
That this killed our 3 beautiful children and their grandfather, and destroyed our life and many other lives in the process, is an irrefutable fact.
That this happened 4 years ago today… is an irrefutable fact.
That the man whose arse you’ve just been kissing did this, and continues to lie about it, is an irrefutable fact.
So you don’t need to look it up, irrefutable means impossible to deny or disprove.
It’s not anger that I feel towards the two of you, it’s something much, much worse.
You have no empathy for your fellow man, and you clearly have no idea what love is.
So you have nothing.
Lead image, courtesy #mh17