‘Strong Indications’ Putin Approved MH17 Missile Supply: Probe – The Moscow Times

Russian President Vladimir Putin likely decided to supply the missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine, but there is no realistic prospect of prosecuting him or others, investigators said Wednesday.

Investigators said there were “strong indications” Putin had personally approved the transfer of the missile to pro-Russian separatists during fighting in eastern Ukraine in 2014, citing intercepted phone calls.

But the probe is being suspended because “all leads have been exhausted” into the shooting down of the plane, which crashed with the loss of all 298 people on board.

The announcement comes less than three months after a Dutch court convicted two Russians and a Ukrainian of murdering those aboard MH17, after trying them in absentia.

“There are strong indications that the Russian president decided on supplying the Buk TELAR to the [Donetsk People’s Republic] separatists,” the Joint Investigation Team of six countries probing the crash said in a statement.

Russian officials even postponed a decision to send weapons to Ukrainian separatists because Putin was at a D-Day commemoration in France in June 2014, the investigators said.

They played an intercepted telephone call from an advisor saying the delay was “because there is only one person who makes the decision … the person who is currently at a summit in France.”

Putin however benefits from immunity as head of state, making any effort to prosecute the Russian leader impossible, the investigators said.

They added that “although we speak of strong indications, the high bar of complete and conclusive evidence is not reached” in relation to Putin.

The Joint Investigation Team comprises members from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine, the countries worst affected by the tragedy.

Investigators had previously said they wanted to find out who crewed the BUK missile, and who made up the chain of command, but conceded that was not possible for now.

“The investigation has now reached its limit, all leads have now been exhausted, the investigation is therefore being suspended,” Dutch prosecutor Digna van Boetzelaer told a news conference in The Hague.

“The evidence is insufficient for more prosecutions.”

Russia dismissed last year’s Dutch verdict at the time as “scandalous” and politically motivated. 

Moscow has consistently denied any involvement in the shooting down of MH17.

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