Two crashes in 2014 and now Five Years later some answers?
Dutch prosecutors file criminal charges against four for MH 17
Atlantic article provides an excellent hypothesis for MH 370
Two aviation disasters befell one airline— MH 370 on March 8, 2014 and MH 17 on July 2014. Malaysian Airlines faced two major crashes and neither of them was initially explainable. Airlines recognize that the investigations of accidents take time, and five years is beyond the usual timeline for answers. The circumstances obviously justify such a long process, but it appears that the causation for one crash has been identified, while the disappearance of the other may have been explained in The Atlantic.
As the Painstakingly thorough investigations by the Dutch Safety Board, Joint Investigation Team (Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine. ) and Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office (PPO) have come to a conclusion that four individuals can be charged criminally for shooting down MH17. This portends to be the penultimate step towards closure.
A highly regarded aviation journalist has presented 10,000 words of analysis on the fate of MH370. Excerpts of the article and a link to the full text are the second part of this post.
MOSCOW — Five years after a missile shot down an airliner over a war zone in Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board, international prosecutors on Wednesday indicted three men with ties to Russian military and intelligence agencies, and implicated — but did not charge — a senior aide to President Vladimir V. Putin.
The criminal charges and the emergence of ever more detailed evidence against the Russian government, which has denied any role in downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, could further cool already icy relations between Moscow and the West.
At a news conference in the Netherlands, the Dutch-led investigative team announced charges against Igor Girkin, a former colonel in the F.S.B., the successor agency to the K.G.B.; and Sergey Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov, both of whom have worked for the Russian military intelligence agency known as the G.R.U.
Prosecutors also charged Leonid Kharchenko, who is a Ukrainian citizen but led a Russian-backed separatist unit under the command of Mr. Dubinsky.
The Netherlands’ chief prosecutor, Fred Westerbeke, said the trial would begin in the Netherlands on March 9, 2020. The accused are unlikely to be present, since three are in Russia and the fourth is believed to be in a breakaway region in Ukraine, but investigators said they would seek international arrest warrants for the suspects and put out a new call for more witnesses.
The suspects “formed a chain linking the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic with the Russian Federation,” the investigators said of the four men, who were charged with the murder of 298 people. “It was through this chain the suspects were able to get heavy military equipment from Russia to the battlefield of eastern Ukraine,” including the sophisticated antiaircraft missile system that downed the plane.
The announcement was the latest development in an already meticulously documented tragedy of the Ukraine war.
The Joint Investigative Team of police from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine — all countries directly affected by the disaster — had already shown that the missile came from a Russian military base in Kursk, in southern Russia, but had not identified suspects. The missile was identified as a Soviet-made Sa-11, or Buk, surface-to-air missile.
The Dutch authorities said they had more than 300 witnesses, intercepted calls and messages, and radar data to support their conclusions, and that they were working to document the chain of command from foot soldiers to senior figures.
One intercepted communication pointed right to the heart of the Kremlin. It indicated that a senior Russian official, Vladislav Y. Surkov, a former Russian deputy prime minister who was a senior domestic policy adviser to Mr. Putin for more than a decade, helped coordinate the provision of the antiaircraft weapon.
The destruction of the Malaysia Airlines flight on July 17, 2014, caused the worst single loss of life for civilians during the Ukraine war, which has continued for more than five years. The 283 passengers and 15 crew members on the flight, which was en route to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from Amsterdam, came from about a dozen countries; 193 of the passengers were Dutch.
The long-haul jetliner, a Boeing 777-200ER, disintegrated in the sky, scattering bodies and debris over a large area of sunflower fields and three villages in rural eastern Ukraine.
The United States and other Western governments blamed Russia almost immediately after the disaster. At the time, Russian-backed separatists had been targeting Ukrainian spotter planes flying into the war zone from the west at altitudes only several thousand feet lower than that of the commercial air traffic on international routes.
The Russian government has consistently denied any involvement, and in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry S. Peskov, said the Kremlin did not accept the findings of the Joint Investigative Team, because Russia was not a member.
Russia’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying that, “once again, absolutely groundless accusations are being made against the Russian side, aimed at discrediting the Russian Federation in the eyes of the international community.”
Mr. Girkin, the accused former F.S.B. officer — who at the time of the downing served as defense minister of the breakaway faction calling itself the Donetsk People’s Republic — issued a statement Wednesday saying the separatists “did not shoot down the Boeing.”
The Russian state media have promoted a range of alternative theories, including that a Ukrainian fighter jet or the Central Intelligence Agency brought down the plane.
“From the first moment on, we hear a lot of theories about the cause of the disaster, as well as the question of who is responsible,” said Mr. Westerbeke, the Dutch chief prosecutor. “Often these theories are based on mistrust, on assumptions, and regularly on deliberately presented untruths.”
International experts from the Netherlands and Australia, along with members of an investigating team, at the crash site.
Among the intercepted communications released by investigators was a short message exchange between a Russian soldier with the 53rd Brigade, the Kursk-based antiaircraft unit that supplied the weapon, and a woman identified only as Anastasia, with whom he is flirting casually. The soldier says a group is heading west, into Ukraine, on a secret mission.
Investigators released a recording of what they said was an intercepted call between Mr. Surkov, the adviser to Mr. Putin, and a separatist leader.
“I had a conversation with fellows back home, well, you know, the ones who are in charge of this whole military story,” the person identified as Mr. Surkov said. “They said, yes, we’re up to speed on everything, don’t worry.”
He added, “We’re aware, and we are planning steps that will turn the tide” — which the investigators interpreted as supplying the antiaircraft weapons — but said the separatists would have to wait about a week before that breakthrough. That is roughly how much time elapsed between the call and the attack on Flight 17.
Western analysts have said it was improbable that anyone other than a senior Russian military commander, if not Mr. Putin himself, could have ordered the bulky antiaircraft system, mounted on a tracked vehicle, deployed across an international border.
The indictments also highlight the ties of two suspects to the Russian military intelligence agency once known as the G.R.U. and now the G.U., or Main Directorate, an agency of intense interest to Western governments in recent years.
Western officials have accused G.R.U. officers of using a nerve agent to poison a former Russian spy living in Britain last year and hacking into the computers of the Democratic National Committee in 2016, in an operation intended to help Donald J. Trump win the presidential election.
For Russia, any admission of a role in downing the airliner would also concede that it was arming separatists in a war that has killed about 13,000 people.
In early 2014, mass protests in Ukraine forced out a pro-Russian president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, opening the door to leaders who wanted to pull away from Moscow and forge closer ties to the West.
That prompted an immediate, drastic change in Russia’s treatment of its neighbor. Within days of Mr. Yanukovych’s ouster, Russia sent troops into Crimea, a part of Ukraine, and annexed it. Weeks later, the separatist war in eastern Ukraine began.
Five years ago, the flight vanished into the Indian Ocean. Officials on land know more about why than they dare to say.
William Langewiesche is an American author and journalist who was also a professional airplane pilot for many years. Since 2006 he has been the international correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine and The Atlantic. The subjects of his books and article include aviation, national security, and North Africa.
The 10,000 word article is well-researched, carefully documented and logically crafted. It is well worth taking some time to read Langewiesche’s credible. hypothesis.
The headings, a couple of highlights and pictures:
Judging from the electronic evidence, this was not a controlled attempt at a water landing. The airplane must have fractured instantly into a million pieces.
Left: The Malaysian lawyer and activist Grace Subathirai Nathan, whose mother was on board MH370.
Right: Blaine Gibson, an American who has mounted a search for debris from the airplane.
3.The Mother Lode
4. The Conspiracies
5. The Possibilities
6. The Captain
7. The Truth
One has to hope that Malaysia’s future flights are smooth!!!
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