The Netherlands argued that there were no convincing legal grounds to hold Kiev responsible for failing to fully close the airspace on the day that the Malaysia Airlines Boeing crashed over eastern Ukraine. The Netherlands based this decision on a report by the Flight Safety Foundation, which studied 34 crashes of civilian planes over conflict zones from 1985 to 2020.
"This story of Ukraine's responsibility, which is clearly inconvenient for the Dutch government, is ending in the exact way that would suit the Hague, which is turning a blind eye to all mistakes of its proteges in Kiev," Maria Zakharova said in a statement.
The investigation of Kiev's role in the tragedy took months and resulted in an "empty multi-page report of a 'strictly independent' expert panel," which suggested that Kiev did not realise the full extent of the threat for civilian aircraft, Zakharova said.
"But what about multiple statements the Ukrainian military made about the missile defence systems that the guerrilla fighters allegedly had? What about the Ukrainian military planes that were shot down?" the spokeswoman said.
The experts did not study Kiev's actions through the lens of the standards and practices accepted in the International Civil Aviation Organisation, Zakharova said. Instead, they produced a dry history report and an analysis of politicians' statements. Russia's arguments, citing ICAO standards, were ignored.
"The entire investigation boils down to the justification of the Ukrainian authorities doing nothing, backed by the arguments that Russia could not have predicted the possibility of the MH17 crash either. But what they leave out is that the conflict was in Ukraine's airspace, therefore, outside of Russia's responsibility," Zakharova said.
The Dutch Foreign Ministry said in July that the Flight Safety Foundation began its investigation into the closure of airspace.
Flight MH17 was downed over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014 amid a military conflict between self-proclaimed republics in the region and the government in Kiev that broke out following a violent coup earlier that year. All 298 passengers, mostly Dutch citizens, and crew on board died in the crash. Last year, four defendants - three Russians and one Ukrainian - went on trial over the downing of the flight after nearly six years of research by Dutch prosecutors and Joint Investigation Team (JIT). The JIT claims that the plane was hit by a Buk missile that belonged to the Russian Armed Forces, something that Moscow has denied. Russia has repeatedly stressed that the probe is biased as it ignored the evidence provided by Moscow, for example, data showing that the plane had been shot down by a Ukrainian Buk missile, which was proved by information from radars.