Russia to withdraw from MH17 consultations citing ‘vicious’ attempts to pin blame on Moscow 

Russia will withdraw from consultations with the Netherlands and Australia over the MH17 flight shot down over Ukraine in 2014, complaining of ‘vicious’ attempts to pin blame on Moscow.

‘Hostile acts by the Netherlands have made any continuation of the trilateral consultations and our participation senseless,’ Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

In response, the Dutch government urged Russia to return to the negotiating table.

Pictured: People ride bicycles past a cross near the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 that was shot down ver territory held by pro-Russian separatists in 2014, outside the village of Hrabove in Donetsk region of Ukraine. Russia has today withdrawn from consultations with the Netherlands and Australia over the downing of the plane

Pictured: A protest sign stands in front of a row of chairs as family members of victims of the MH17 crash lined up empty chairs for each seat on the plane during a protest outside the Russian Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands March 8, 2020

Pictured: A protest sign stands in front of a row of chairs as family members of victims of the MH17 crash lined up empty chairs for each seat on the plane during a protest outside the Russian Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands March 8, 2020

MH17 – a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur – was hit by a Soviet-designed BUK missile on July 17 2014, killing all 298 people aboard. 

On board as the plane was shot down over territory controlled by Russia-backed separatists were 196 Dutch citizens and 38 Australians – 80 of which were children.

Since 2018, the three countries have held discussions aimed at uncovering the cause of the disaster. 

Speaking to reporters at an EU summit in Brussels, Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he was ‘disappointed’ and ‘surprised’ by Russia’s decision, adding that it was ‘especially painful’ for the victims’ families.

Meanwhile Foreign Minister Stef Blok told lawmakers he had summoned the Russian ambassador to tell him of his ‘deep regrets’ over the move.

‘It is a disappointment and also a surprise,’ Blok said in response to Moscow’s decision.

‘It must especially be a disappointment for the relatives to hear that this venue towards truth and justice for now has been blocked.’

‘I cannot exclude any actions (against Russia) for now, but first and foremost is my invitation to the Russians to come back to the negotiating table,’ Blok said.

Toys are placed near the cross in memory of victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 plane crash in the village of Rozsypne in the Donetsk region, Ukraine

Toys are placed near the cross in memory of victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 plane crash in the village of Rozsypne in the Donetsk region, Ukraine

Pictured: The reconstructed wreckage of the MH17 airplane is seen after the presentation of the final report into the crash

Pictured: The reconstructed wreckage of the MH17 airplane is seen after the presentation of the final report into the crash

After years of collecting evidence, a Dutch-led international Joint Investigation team (JIT) last year said the missile launcher used to hit the civilian airplane came from a Russian army base just across the border.

The Netherlands holds Russia responsible and has started legal proceedings at the European Court of Human Rights. It is prosecuting four individuals – three Russians and a Ukrainian – for shooting down the aircraft and killing everyone on board.

Moscow complained that The Hague is bringing a case against it ‘for its role in the destruction of flight MH17’ before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ‘after just three rounds of talks’.

The Netherlands ‘thereby demonstrate their firm intention to take the vicious path… of unilaterally assigning responsibility to Russia for what happened,’ it added.

Dutch leaders have openly accused Russia of standing behind the deaths of its citizens. But Moscow has always forcefully denied it was involved in the crash and blamed Ukraine.

298 people, including 80 children, were killed when the Boeing 777 was shot down. Pictured: Debris of the Boeing 777, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on 17 July, 2014

298 people, including 80 children, were killed when the Boeing 777 was shot down. Pictured: Debris of the Boeing 777, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on 17 July, 2014

In this file photo taken on November 11, 2014 pro-Russian gunmen stand guard as Dutch investigators (unseen) arrive near parts of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

In this file photo taken on November 11, 2014 pro-Russian gunmen stand guard as Dutch investigators (unseen) arrive near parts of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

The Russian foreign ministry called the Dutch-led investigation into the crash ‘biased, superficial and politicised’. 

‘Australia and the Netherlands have obviously not tried to understand what really happened in summer 2014, but rather just wanted to secure a confession from Russia and compensation for the victims’ relatives,’ the foreign ministry said.

Russia will ‘continue its cooperation’ with The Hague in the inquiry, but ‘in a different format’, it added.

Dutch courts in March began hearing a case against the four suspects, three of them Russian and one Ukrainian, accused of having caused the crash.    

Prosecutors said the suspects helped arrange the Russian missile system used to shoot down the civilian aircraft over territory held by pro-Moscow rebels fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine. 

Pictured: Judge Hendrik Steenhuis (centre) attends the hearing in the trial of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in the high-security courtroom of the Schiphol Judicial Complex, in The Netherlands, 28 September 2020

Pictured: Judge Hendrik Steenhuis (centre) attends the hearing in the trial of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in the high-security courtroom of the Schiphol Judicial Complex, in The Netherlands, 28 September 2020

The defendants, Russians Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Igor Girkin and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, each held senior positions in the pro-Russian militias a at the time. 

The suspects, all of whom are still at large, are believed to be in Russia, and all waived their right to attend the hearings.

The aircraft’s downing led to sanctions against Russia by the European Union. It also heightened tension between Russia and Western powers who blame it for the disaster, which killed 196 Dutch, 43 Malaysian and 27 Australian nationals, among others. 

Wilbert Paulissen, national Police chief of the Netherlands, announces murder charges against three Russians and one Ukrainian over the shoot-down of MH17

Wilbert Paulissen, national Police chief of the Netherlands, announces murder charges against three Russians and one Ukrainian over the shoot-down of MH17

All four men were fighting for Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine when MH17 was shot down, investigators say, despite Russia insisting the missile was fired by Ukrainian forces (pictured, a pro-Russia separatist near a part of the plane)

All four men were fighting for Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine when MH17 was shot down, investigators say, despite Russia insisting the missile was fired by Ukrainian forces (pictured, a pro-Russia separatist near a part of the plane) 

Chairman of the MH17 Disaster Foundation, Piet Ploeg (left), arrives on March 9, 2020 in Schiphol, for the opening of the trial of four men accused of murder

Chairman of the MH17 Disaster Foundation, Piet Ploeg (left), arrives on March 9, 2020 in Schiphol, for the opening of the trial of four men accused of murder

Moscow slammed the ‘absolutely groundless accusations’ last year, claiming the international community had frozen them out of investigations to discredit Russia. 

Prosecutors said Girkin was a former colonel in Russia’s FSB intelligence agency who was the self-declared minister of defence in the separatist administration in eastern Ukraine. 

Dubinskiy was a former minister from the Russian military intelligence agency GRU, Pulatov was an ex-soldier in Russia’s Spetznaz special forces unit and Kharchenko a Ukrainian separatist.  

The lost children of Flight MH17: Youngest victims of 2014 tragedy are seen smiling in family snapshots

When Flight MH17 was shot down, 298 people lost their lives – 80 of them were children.

Their lives ended as they were heading off on holidays or returning home from breaks, when the plane was downed in July 2014.  

A Malaysian family of six – including four children aged 13 to 19 – were killed as they journeyed home together. 

Evie Maslin, 10, from Perth in Australia, was flying with her brothers and grandfather to get back for school

Evie Maslin, 10, from Perth in Australia, was flying with her brothers and grandfather to get back for school

Russia to withdraw from MH17 consultations citing 'vicious' attempts to pin blame on Moscow  1

Russia to withdraw from MH17 consultations citing 'vicious' attempts to pin blame on Moscow  3

Nick Norris was bringing grandsons Mo Maslin (left), 12, and Otis, eight, home after a holiday in Amsterdam

Russia to withdraw from MH17 consultations citing 'vicious' attempts to pin blame on Moscow  5

Russia to withdraw from MH17 consultations citing 'vicious' attempts to pin blame on Moscow  7

Victims: Marnix van den Hende (left), 12, and his elder brother Piers (right), 15, were killed aboard Flight MH17

Tragic: Their younger sister Margaux van den Hende, eight, also died in the horrific crash

Tragic: Their younger sister Margaux van den Hende, eight, also died in the horrific crash

The three Maslin children from Perth; Mo, 12, Evie, ten, and Otis, eight, died with their grandfather as they were returning home after family holiday in Europe.

Their parents had decided to stay in Amsterdam for a few extra days and survived their children. 

The Van Den Hende siblings Piers, 15, Marnix, 12 and Margaux, eight, were travelling back to Australia with their parents. 

Also among the dead were the sons of British banker Andrew Hoare; Friso, 12, and Jasper, 15, who were heading to a holiday in  Borneo. 

Russia to withdraw from MH17 consultations citing 'vicious' attempts to pin blame on Moscow  9

Russia to withdraw from MH17 consultations citing 'vicious' attempts to pin blame on Moscow  11

Malaysian victim Afruz Jiee, 13 (left), died alongside his brothers and sister including Afzal, 17 (right)

Russia to withdraw from MH17 consultations citing 'vicious' attempts to pin blame on Moscow  13

Russia to withdraw from MH17 consultations citing 'vicious' attempts to pin blame on Moscow  15

Tragic: Afif Jiee, 19 (left), and his younger sister Marsha Jiee, 15 (right) were flying home to Malaysia

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Russia to withdraw from MH17 consultations citing 'vicious' attempts to pin blame on Moscow  19

Sisters: Jinte Wals (left) and her sister Amel (right) died alongside their two brothers and parents

Kaela Goes, 21 months, died with her parents flying home to Malaysia after visiting relatives in Holland

Kaela Goes, 21 months, died with her parents flying home to Malaysia after visiting relatives in Holland

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Russia to withdraw from MH17 consultations citing 'vicious' attempts to pin blame on Moscow  23

Flying out for a holiday: Dutch sisters Tess and Liv Trugg were en-route to a holiday in Bali with their parents

Another British father John Allen, 44, died with his Dutch wife Sandra and their three sons Ian, Julian and Christopher, aged eight to 16, as they travelled to Indonesia. 

Three babies were among the dead, including 21-month-old Kaela Goes, killed with her parents as they flew home to Malaysia after visiting relatives in Holland.

Two families from the same street in the Netherlands were also killed.

Tess and Liv Trugg, aged ten and eight, and their neighbour Sem Wels, ten, died with their parents en route to a holiday in Bali.

Five-year-old Martin Paulissen and his sister Sri, three, died with their parents as they travelled to visit their grandmother’s grave in Indonesia.

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