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Australian foreign minister believes Russia involved in MH17 plane crash in Ukraine

May 24, 16:01 UTC+3 SYDNEY

A weapon "belonging to the Russian Army was dispatched and used to shoot down a civilian aircraft," the Australian foreign minister said

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SYDNEY, May 24. /TASS/. Findings released by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) "provide further evidence of Russia’s pivotal role" in the MH17 plane crash in Ukraine in July 2014, said Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop on Thursday, noting that her country’s experts are JIT members.

A weapon "belonging to the Russian Army was dispatched and used to shoot down a civilian aircraft," the Australian foreign minister said in a statement released on Thursday evening. "We are discussing these findings with our partners and considering our options," she specified.

Earlier the same day Dutch prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said at a press conference in Bunnik (Netherlands) that the JIT considerably advanced in the investigation into the MH17 plane crash. The JIT found out that the MH17 was downed with the Buk missile system near the community of Pervomaiskoye, which was under the control of pro-Russian separatists, Westerbeke said, adding that the team could not say yet who and why shot down the Boeing.

Westerbeke stated that, according to the investigators, the missile complex which was used to down the Malaysian Boeing was delivered to Ukraine’s territory from the territory of the Russian Federation and then taken back. The presentation that was demonstrated during the press conference stated that several systems from the Kursk 53rd brigade were taken from the military base on June 23, 24, and 25. After analyzing photos and video footages from the internet the investigators reconstructed the military convoy’s route and made the corresponding conclusion.

The prosecutor added that several dozens of people are suspected of the Boeing MH17 plane crash, but did not disclose any details.

The Boeing-777 passenger plane operated by Malaysian Airlines crashed on July 17, 2014, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in the east of the Donetsk region. As many as 283 passengers and 15 crew members - citizens of 10 states, including 38 Australians - were killed in the crash. The JIT, which includes experts from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, is investigating the tragedy. In September 2016 it presented its first preliminary findings, according to which the plane was downed by a missile launched from a Buk missile complex located in the Pervomaiskoye village area south of the community of Sheznhnoye, which was controlled by the militiamen on the day of the tragedy. Russian experts disagree with the international experts’ findings. Their analysis of the primary radar data suggests that it was impossible to launch a missile over the Malaysian Boeing from the area east of the tragedy site, including from the community of Snezhnoye.

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