Wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 © Peter Dejong

Twelve years ago, a passenger plane flight MH17 was brought down in the territorial sky of Ukraine; now, we have reached the verdict.

MH17 crash
Airplane Crash Site © Prospect Magazine

What Happened to MH17

On July 17, 2014,  a Boeing 777 from Malaysia Airlines took off from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to Kuala Lumpur. It was 33,000 feet above eastern Ukraine when it lost all contact with air traffic control before getting shot down by a Russian-made missile.

The attack took the lives of 298 innocent passengers and aircrews, 196 of which were of Dutch nationality.

The Verdict

Today, the judges have reached a verdict; three out of four suspects – two Russians and one Ukrainian – are found guilty in absentia and sentenced to life in prison.

Former colonel of the Russian intelligence service FSB Igor Girkin, war veteran Sergei Dubinsky, and Leonid Kharchenko are responsible for shooting down the passenger airplane, which they mistook for a military jet.

The judges acquitted the fourth suspect Oleg Pulatov, for lack of evidence. Putalov was the only one with in-trial legal representation while the other three never showed up in court.

The court also revealed that the weapon was supplied by the Russian anti-air brigade in Kursk and fired from a pro-Russian area, Pervomaiskyi. Evidence that proves the Russian involvement in the crime was published by an independent team of journalists, Bellingcat. Russia never admitted the deed but claimed that the Ukrainian forces were to blame.

This notorious attack was collateral damage from the Russia-Ukraine conflict that initially started in February 2014.

Russian-made Warhead

Russian Missile
Buk Air Defense System © Alpha Coders

The missile was launched from a Buk air defense system. Buk was first developed and used by the Soviet Army in the 1970s. The Buk system deploys radar- or infrared-guided missiles from surface to air and can counter vehicles and cruise missiles. Apart from Russia, other countries, including Georgia, North Korea, and Ukraine, have also introduced Buk to their military service.

Judge Hendrik Steenhuis, who presided over the trial stated:

The court found that only the longest possible prison sentences would fit the gravity of the charges.



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