The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the international Joint Investigation Team (JIT) lied when it claimed Moscow was allegedly refusing to cooperate with the probe into the crash in eastern Ukraine. Moscow said it would continue supporting the investigation and hold the perpetrators accountable.
"[The European Council] welcomes the announcement by the Joint Investigation Team on 19 June 2019 that criminal charges will be brought in the Netherlands against four individuals, calls on Russia to cooperate fully with the ongoing investigation, and expresses its full confidence in the independence and professionalism of the legal procedures that lie ahead," the conclusions on the council’s meeting in Brussels read.
The document noted that the council reiterated its support for efforts to ensure justice in the case, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2166.
The Foreign Ministry's statement follows the release of names of four suspects — three Russian nationals and one Ukrainian national — by the JIT. The JIT accuses the men of delivering the missile system to Ukraine from a Russian anti-aircraft missile brigade stationed in the city of Kursk, not far from the Ukrainian border. Russia has categorically denied claims that it was in any way involved in the tragedy, calling the accusations against Russia in the MH17 case "ungrounded".
Echoing Moscow's position, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad called the JIT's latest claims in the MH17 case politically motivated and unproven.
Moscow has repeatedly stressed that the probe was “biased” and based entirely on flimsy evidence presented by Ukraine, while Russia was excluded from the investigation, which makes it impossible for Moscow to consider the probe valid and fit for its purpose.
Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, bound for Kuala Lumpur, was downed over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014 as the region was embroiled in a conflict following the coup d'etat in the country earlier that year. All 298 passengers aboard, mostly Dutch nationals, died in the crash. Almost immediately after the crash and before a formal investigation was launched, the US and many of its European allies rushed to accuse Russia of responsibility for the tragedy.
Following the incident, a Dutch-led investigative team put together to probe the tragedy claimed that the plane was shot down by a Buk missile system which was transported from Russia and returned back after the tragedy. Russia was not invited to participate in the probe.
Russia subsequently conducted its own investigation into the disaster. The manufacturer of the system, Russia's Almaz Antey company, dismissed the allegations, insisting that the rocket was fired from an area controlled by the Ukrainian military, providing evidence that the system belonged to the Ukrainian Army.
The Russian Defense Ministry has said that in 2011, the Russian authorities disposed of all the missiles from the series that included the missile whose engine the JIT demonstrated as an evidence to prove Russia's involvement in the downing of the plane.
The Russian side has repeatedly attempted to provide Dutch investigators with its evidence, but JIT has shown no interest in the Russian information.