Ukraine did not know that civil aviation was in danger when a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was shot down over Donbas in July 2014. Accordingly, the Netherlands will not hold Ukraine accountable for its decision not to close airspace over the war zone.

The Dutch online newspaper, quoting Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Stef Blok, reported that there is not enough evidence to hold Ukraine legally responsible for the incomplete closure of airspace, which was confirmed by an independent investigation.

The lower house of the Dutch parliament insisted on an investigation because it wanted to get more information on Ukraine’s role in the MH17 crash. In particular, the MPs asked why the airspace over the conflict zone was not completely closed.

The Flight Safety Foundation’s report notes that “insufficient evidence was found to indicate that the Ukrainian authorities, responsible for the safety of civil aviation in eastern Ukraine at that time, were aware of the threat to civil aviation except for that part of the airspace that had already been closed.”

According to the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, it is revealing that the civil aviation authorities of the Russian Federation, responsible for the already closed airspace adjacent to the combat zone in eastern Ukraine, also saw no threat to civil aviation.

Meanwhile, Eliot Higgins, the founder of the international group of investigative journalists Bellingcat, said that during the trial in the case of the downed passenger jet, more information and new evidence will be released, and then everyone will understand what really happened and who is to blame for the tragedy.

“If Russia admits its involvement in the MH17 tragedy, then it will recognise its aggression against Ukraine, as well as the years of disinformation and propaganda that it has imposed on the world and its people. In my opinion, the Russian side thinks only about saving face. And now, we are at a stage when there are many lawsuits in various courts, and it is really very difficult for them to say: ‘Oh, it was actually a Russian missile launch, and we really got into MH17’,” the founder of Bellingcat said.

As a reminder, on 1 February, the District Court of The Hague continued the proceedings in the case of the downed flight MH17. The substantive hearing was scheduled for 7 June 2021. Earlier, the judges rejected requests to investigate alternative tragedy scenarios, saying the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) had already done enough and its detailed findings had been included in the criminal case.

Bohdan Marusyak

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