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10 Sep, 2014 20:55

Dutch preliminary MH17 crash report leaves too many questions – Russia

Dutch preliminary MH17 crash report leaves too many questions – Russia

A “truly” international investigation of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine is required, Russia’s UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin, said, adding that there are too many blank spots in the newly released Dutch report on the tragedy.

The document, released by the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) on Tuesday, said that the Malaysian Boeing-777 crash was the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that struck it from the outside.

“It is very hard to call this investigation a truly international one. Many questions have been left unanswered. There are too many omissions,” Churkin said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 channel.

The Dutch report “did little to advance our understanding of what happened,” only confirming what was already known before, he stressed.

It says that the Malaysian plane “didn’t fall by itself, but was shot down. However no further thoughts in this regard are being presented,” the envoy said.

An Emergencies Ministry member walks at a site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014.(Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

According to Churkin, Dutch investigators have also completely ignored the issue of at least one Ukrainian warplane that reportedly was in midair near the Malaysian plane when the disaster occurred on July 17.

“The report says another three commercial airliners were cruising in the vicinity at the moment of tragedy, but it does not say anything if Ukrainian warplanes were there, too. Our Defense Ministry said at least one military jet might have been there and eyewitnesses also say they saw one or two jets in the sky,” Churkin stressed.

“For some reason however the problem is bypassed,” he added.

It also looks “very strange” that the text of the DSB report doesn’t say a word about the UN Security Council's resolution on MH17, the envoy said.

“This resolution speaks about the need for conducting a thorough independent international investigation, not to mention the fact that it contains an important provision about the cease-fire in the area of the crash,” he explained.

With so many blank spots, Russia would like to see more transparency and less “mystery” surrounding the investigation.

“Of course, certain discretion in the investigation is necessary, but it isn’t clear why some things aren’t brought to the attention of the public,” he said.

For example, the envoy wants to know the reasons for the 40-day delay in delivering the recordings of the conversation between air traffic controllers and the jet from the Ukrainian side to the investigators.

“One has to state that a truly international investigation [of the MH17 tragedy] hasn’t been held to this day," Churkin concluded.

Russian U.N. Representative Vitaly Churkin.(AFP Photo / Andrew Burton)

Russia's deputy foreign minister, Grigory Karasin, repeated the call for more transparency in the MH17 crash investigation as he met with Malaysian defense minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, in Moscow on Tuesday.

During the meeting, it was “noted that the [Dutch] probe was incomplete," the Russian Foreign ministry said in a statement.

Moscow believes that "very important expert examinations have actually not been conducted on the crash site. Without them, valid conclusions on the reasons of what happened are impossible."

The ministry pointed out that some expert examinations are already impossible to carry out now due to protraction of investigation.

"Russia insists on maximally transparent work of the international commission, fulfilling all norms of ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) and is ready to participate in it on a team basis," the statement said.

All 298 people aboard the Malaysia Airlines jet died as it crashed in Ukraine's Donetsk region on July 17. The majority of those on the plane – which was allegedly shot down – were citizens of the Netherlands.

Both sides involved in the Ukraine conflict – the government and militias which refused to recognize the February coup in Kiev – accuse each other of bringing down the aircraft.

It was initially alleged that the plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. However, claims were also made that the flight was shot down by a Ukrainian military jet which was in the area at the same time.

The investigation of the tragedy was hampered by fighting in the area around the crash site, with Kiev and rebels accusing each other of attempting to conceal the facts.