A Dutch investigation linked Russia to the missile that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014, killing 298 people and stoking new tensions between Russia and Europe.
The investigation concluded the missile system came from Russia at the request of separatists backed by Moscow. It returned to Russia just hours after the deadly incident.
Evidence that was compiled from social media, phone conversations, and witness statements validates investigations by citizen journalists at Bellingcat who have been probing the incident and posting evidence against Russia since MH17 was destroyed.
— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) September 29, 2016
Eliot Higgins, the founder of Bellingcat, has been under constant cyberattack for nearly two years for his role in uncovering evidence of the Russian government’s role in the incident.
Higgins’ groundbreaking work was more than just an inspiration for the official investigation. He was a witness for the Joint Investigation Team’s interim case.
Prosecutors say they will identify individual suspects and prepare criminal indictments for their actions. Given Russia’s laws and politics, however, the chances that any Russian citizen would be extradited are slim at best.
Perhaps the biggest question to go unanswered so far is who gave the order to fire on the civilian aircraft. In that pursuit, the investigation continues.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the BBC there was “nothing to accept or deny” as these were only preliminary findings.
“We cannot accept as final truth of what they say. I bet you haven’t seen any proof of what they say,” he said. “We know the devil is in the detail, and we are still missing lot of the detail.”