(Natural News) After more than two years of painstaking work, a joint aviation investigation team from The Netherlands and Malaysia has announced they have definitive proof that an air defense unit from the Russian military shot down a Malaysia Airlines commercial flight over Ukraine nearly four years ago.
As reported by the South China Morning Post, investigators say they have tracked the missile, which was fired from a Russian-made BUK anti-aircraft system belonging to a Russian anti-aircraft unit which they tracked from the unit’s home base inside Russia.
The Joint Investigation Team “has come to the conclusion that the BUK-TELAR that shot down MH17 came from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade based in Kursk in Russia,” said the top Dutch investigator, Wilbert Paulissen.
At a press conference in the Netherlands, Paulissen added, “The 53rd Brigade forms part of the Russian armed forces.”
The plane was shot down over a conflict-heavy region of Ukraine on July 17, 2014, as it was enroute from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
As Natural News reported at the time:
— The aircraft was cruising at an altitude of 33,000 feet, which was well within the range of the BUK system (which, in some configurations, can reach aircraft flying as high as 88,000 feet);
— Russian and Ukrainian forces immediately blamed one another after the shoot-down;
— About the time of the MH-17 downing, pro-Russian forces claimed they had shot down what they said was a Ukrainian transport plane;
— Pro-Russian forces, the previous month, had downed an IL-76 transport plane carrying 49 soldiers.
All 298 passengers and crew aboard the Boeing 777 were killed. Most of the passengers were Dutch, but there were passengers from 17 different countries aboard including the U.S., Australia, Great Britain and, of course, Malaysia.
During his press conference, Paulissen said the joint investigative team had “ascertained that the BUK-TELAR has a number of unique characteristics. These characteristics as such served as a type of fingerprint for the missile.”
“We are convinced that our findings justify the conclusions that the BUK-TELAR which was used came from the 53rd Brigade which is part of the military of the Russian Federation,” he added. (Related: Who really shot down Malaysia Airlines MH17? Readers weigh in on Russians, conspiracy theories and more.)
Russia has repeatedly denied its forces were responsible and the Putin administration did so again on Thursday after Paulissen revealed the joint team’s findings. As reported by Tass, the Russian Defense Ministry said none of the country’s air defense units ever crossed into Ukraine.
“Within the framework of interaction with the Dutch law-enforcement bodies, the Russian side presented overwhelming evidence confirmed by full-scale tests and clearly pointing to the complicity of precisely Ukrainian crews of Buk missile systems in destroying the Boeing airliner from the Netherlands over Ukraine,” the defense ministry said in a statement.
Not true, according to the joint investigative team.
As reported by the South China Morning Post:
The probe being led by the Netherlands is focusing on some 100 people suspected of having played an “active role” in the incident, but investigators have not yet publicly named any suspects.
They have identified two people, who go by the aliases Orion and Delfin, as top suspects after obtaining their wire-tapped conversations before and after the plane was shot out of the sky.
What’s more, the joint investigative team said it tracked the air defense brigade’s convoy leaving from Kursk towards the border and into Ukraine using videos and photos that likely include satellite images.
Dutch officials have stopped short of naming any actual suspects. Also, investigators had long known that a missile from a BUK system is what brought the plane down and that it was fired from inside Ukraine on territory held by Russian-backed rebels.
It’s not clear what happens at this point, but if the Dutch view this as an act of war, things will get interesting quickly, considering the Netherlands is a member of NATO.
J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for NaturalNews.com and NewsTarget.com, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.