A new report from Dutch investigators makes official what the international community has long suspected. The crash of MH17 was no accident.
Pieces of the plane still lie in the field where it crashed in mid-July. All 298 people on board the Boeing 777 died that day. (Video via RT)
Russian media have charged Ukraine and the West are behind the tragedy.
But the U.S. and its allies have accused pro-Russian separatists of shooting the plane down with a missile — accusations Russia and the rebels have dismissed.
AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER TONY ABBOTT VIA ABC (AUSTRALIA): “MH17 it seems has been shot down over the eastern Ukraine it seems by Russian-backed rebels.”
That’s the conclusion you might draw from this preliminary report, despite the fact that it doesn’t assign any blame. The Dutch investigators said their objective was only to determine the cause of the crash, not point fingers.
Using information from the plane’s black boxes, along with satellite imagery, the investigators say there was "no evidence of technical or human error.” Instead, the plane was damaged by “high-energy” objects.
No where in the report is the use of the word "missile." But experts say the report’s description is consistent with the damage that would have been left behind from a Buk missile. (Video via Euronews)
It should be noted that, in theory, the missile could have come from either side. Both the Russian and Ukrainian militaries have access to these surface-to-air missile systems.
Still, Western officials say they have little doubt the rebels fired at the plane — not Ukraine.
Among their evidence — the day of the crash, a pro-Russian rebel leader appeared to take credit on social media for shooting down a plane. He later blamed Ukrainian forces when reports emerged MH17 was a commercial airliner.
Ukraine insists Russia is the source of the weapon. Ukrainian intelligence officials have released videos showing what appears to be a surface-to-air missile system in rebel territory traveling back to Russia with at least one of its missiles missing.
They also released this audio from an intercepted phone conversation from they say was between a top rebel leader and Russian officials. In the recording, the man identified as the rebel leader admits to shooting down the plane.
The Dutch report isn’t conclusive. The investigators say they still need to return to the crash site before they can release a final report. Heavy fighting in the area between the rebels and Ukrainians forced the investigators to leave last month.
This video includes images from Getty Images.