Putin dismisses MH17 findings and says ‘of course’ Russia is not to blame for tragedy

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Vladimir Putin has hit back at an investigation that concluded Russia was responsible for shooting down flight MH17, telling reporters “of course” his country was not to blame.

Dutch investigators revealed the findings of their long-running investigation on Thursday.

They said the Russian-made BUK missile that brought down the Malaysia Airlines jet over Ukraine in July 2014 was from a military unit based in the city of Kursk.

Mr Putin, speaking in Saint Petersburg, called the incident a “terrible tragedy” but said there was “nothing that inspires confidence” in the investigation and that “several versions” of events exist about what happened.

Part of the BUK missile (left) was displayed at the investigation's media confernce Putin dismisses MH17 findings and says 'of course' Russia is not to blame for tragedy Putin dismisses MH17 findings and says ‘of course’ Russia is not to blame for tragedy skynews buk missile mh17 4320312
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Part of the missile was displayed at the investigation’s media conference

The Russian president said the findings could not be trusted because his country had not been involved in the investigation.

Mr Putin’s denial came after the Dutch prime minister told reporters on Friday: “There is but one conclusion to be made from yesterday’s presentation, namely that Russia is thoroughly responsible for the deployment of this BUK system.”

The Dutch government – along with Australia – said it was holding Russia “formally accountable” for the tragedy that killed 298 passengers and crew.

Serial number of rocket Putin dismisses MH17 findings and says 'of course' Russia is not to blame for tragedy Putin dismisses MH17 findings and says ‘of course’ Russia is not to blame for tragedy skynews missile rocket russia 4320317
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The serial number of the BUK rocket

It said a possible next step would be presenting its findings to an international court – which could eventually lead to charges against individuals.

Dutch investigators are focusing on some 100 people suspected of having played an “active role” in the incident, but they have not yet publicly named any of them.

The Boeing 777 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down over territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels on 17 July 2014.

The investigation team recreated the route taken by the missile convoy from Kursk across the border using videos and images.

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Investigators have created a computer-generated image of the MH17 missile strike

“All the vehicles in a convoy carrying the missile were part of the Russian armed forces,” said Wilbert Paulissen, of the Dutch National Police, at a news conference on Thursday.

Both the US and UK support the investigation’s findings.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Russia must “answer for its actions” and stop a “deluge of disinformation”.

NATO has also called on Russia to “accept responsibility”, while US state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: “It is time for Russia to acknowledge its role in the shooting down of MH17 and to cease its callous disinformation campaign.”

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said he had spoken to Dutch counterpart Stef Blok and that the Netherlands “have practically no doubt that the BUK came from Russia”.

Fragments of the plane were reconstructed by investigators Putin dismisses MH17 findings and says 'of course' Russia is not to blame for tragedy Putin dismisses MH17 findings and says ‘of course’ Russia is not to blame for tragedy cegrab 20151013 120613 0 1 2048x1536 3468531
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Fragments of the plane were reconstructed

“I asked him about facts proving these claims,” said Mr Lavrov.

“He did not give me any facts, saying they want Russia to help establish them based on unfounded suspicion.”

He also compared the case to the Salisbury poisoning, saying there was a “feeling of deja vu” in the way that Russian was being blamed.

Russia’s defence ministry claims the missile “more than likely belonged to the Ukrainian armed forces”.

It said on Friday that fragments indicated the Soviet-made missile was made in 1986, but that the Russian military decommissioned missiles of that type in 2011.



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