By Eric Zuesse
The shoot-down of the MH17 Malaysian airliner over the conflict-zone in Ukraine’s civil war, on 17 July 2014, was finally judged, by a panel of five governments, on 24 May 2018. One of these five governments was a major suspect in the case, Ukraine itself. Ukraine had been granted, on 8 August 2014, absolute veto-power over the group’s ultimate verdict. The verdict that was announced on May 24th, was that Russia’s Government, which is hated by Ukraine’s Government, did this shoot-down and mass-murder of the 298 people on that plane. Any verdict that Ukraine had downed the plane was vetoed at the outset by Ukraine, and so Russia was declared guilty on May 24th of last year.
The 8 August 2014 agreement was that there can be no verdict in the case unless, and until, there is a verdict that has “the consent of all the parties” to the investigatory team. The official announcement said that no finding on the MH17 event would be published unless and until there has been “receipt of the consent of all parties who take part in the investigation.”
At that time, the team included four countries: Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, and Ukraine. All four signed it. A fifth member was later added, Malaysia, which likewise (though reluctantly) signed that 8 August 2014 agreement. If any one of those four (now five) Governments dissented from a proposed verdict, then that proposed verdict simply would be impossible to become publicly issued by the judging panel, as the verdict. (NOTE: I had been the only reporter in the English language to translate and report about that 8 August 2014 agreement — an agreement which still has never been made public except for two brief news-reports in Ukraine’s press.)
This panel calls itself the “Joint Investigation Team,” and it issued its verdict against Russia, in its 24 May 2018 presentation, finding that “the 53rd Anti Aircraft Missile brigade … of the Russian army from Kursk in the Russian Federation”, had shot down the airliner, and thus that Russia is guilty of having murdered the 298 people. Immediately, the Washington Post reported that, “Criminal charges against the Russian military or Russia’s government probably would exacerbate tensions between the Kremlin and the West even further, implicating Russian officials in the deaths of European tourists on their way to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.” Then, on the very next day, May 25th, Britain’s Telegraph bannered “Netherlands and Australia call for compensation for MH17 victims as they accuse Russia of downing plane”, and reported that “Australia and the Netherlands have said they hold Russia legally responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014 and will seek reparations for relatives of the 298 people killed.”
Never before in history has a suspect in a murder-case — much less in a mass-murder case, such as this was — been granted veto-power over the verdict in the case. This situation is therefore unprecedented, historic.
On December 31st, the final day of 2018, I described in detail the actual case against Ukraine, and emailed it to all newsmedia in The West. The JIT team wasn’t allowed to consider any case against Ukraine, but there it was, for any news-medium to provide to its audience that wishes to do so. (No major news-medium accepted and published it.) Here will be only a summary presentation of that case. A significant portion of the reader-comments, to that article, said that it was too long to read; so, here is a summary:
The first part of the case is that the evidence which the JIT team had presented on May 24th included details that actually convict Ukraine, but that the JIT’s presentation simply ignored, didn’t even consider. In other words, the first part uses the very same objects of evidence that JIT said convict Russia. Therefore, Russia’s case here is built upon identically the same evidence that JIT had used in order to convict Russia.
The JIT’s May 24th presentation said that they had found parts of the missile which had destroyed the passenger plane. These parts were shown in their presentation. The JIT simply claimed that these parts came from the missile that had shot down the plane, but provided no evidence that it did, nor even that that missile had actually been found anywhere near the crash-site or had had anything to do with downing the MH17. They merely said that it did. Furthermore, they failed to present any provenance of the missile, any documentation of that missile’s ownership and control and use throughout the period since it was manufactured in 1986. No conclusion regarding either Russia or Ukraine can legally be reached about those missile-parts without knowing the missile’s provenance — whether it was owned and operated by Russia on 17 July 2014, or instead by Ukraine, or instead by the Ukrainian separatists, or by anyone else.
The transcript of the JIT’s May 24th presentation asserted that the key serial number on the two missile fragments is 1318869032, because “the number 9032 [in that number] is the unique identification number of this specific missile engine.” However, they failed to provide any evidence of the missile’s provenance.
On 17 September 2018, Russia’s Government documented the provenance of that missile, not only by means of the 9032, but by other serial numbers that were shown on the fragments in the JIT team’s May 24th presentation. Russia’s presentation discussed, in detail, 1318869032, 8868720, 886847379 and 9M38. All of those numbers that were visible on the fragments were shown to have been from one-and-the-same Buk missile. It had been manufactured in Russia in December 1986, and promptly sent to Ukraine in 1986, and was never thereafter inside Russia, nor in the possession of the Russian Government. It stayed in Ukraine. For example, the record on 886847379 shows that on 29 December 1986, this missile, which had been assembled only five days earlier, was sent to what today is the 223rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade in Ternopol Ukraine, where it became part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces upon Ukraine’s independence in 1991.
The September 17th video by Russia, in English, describes the missile’s exact provenance, and shows all of the documents on its provenance; and here is a summary of that video, in which the cited timings are marked in parentheses, for ease of the reader’s verification:
The video says (6:00) that the key number on the parts that were shown is actually 8868720, because “the last four digits, 8720, are a unique factory serial number, of this specific missile.” The missile was given (9:49) “military stock number 886847379” and (10:20) “was sent via the railway to military unit 20152 on December 29, 1986.” That military unit’s (10:50) “current name is the 223rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade” in the Ternopol region of Ukraine. (11:35) “Currently, this brigade is equipped with Buk missile systems and is now stationed in the town of Stryi in the Lvov region of Ukraine. What is of particular interest is that since 2014, this unit of the 223rd … has been engaged on an ongoing basis in the so-called anti-terrorist operation in [Ukraine’s war against] the territory of the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics [the breakaway formerly Ukrainian region].”
Consequently, if this Buk did shoot down the MH17, as the JIT claims it did, then Ukraine shot down the MH17.
The U.S.-allied team never yet has responded to Russia’s documentation of the provenance of that Buk missile. Perhaps the JIT already recognized, at the time of their May 24th presentation, that Russia might possess documentation on that missile’s provenance, and they just didn’t want it. At that time, on May 24th, they said in their detailed news-conference, that they wouldn’t want to “turn to the Russian authorities to obtain information about this subject”. That refusal, in advance, to accept such information from Russia, about this missile’s provenance, provided them an excuse to ignore any documentation that Russia might possess, and could present in response to the JIT’s verdict. Perhaps publication of the present article (this summary of my lengthier presentation) will help to generate a response from the JIT. That is why this article, like its lengthier predecessor, is being submitted to all newsmedia in The West.
On 20 September 2018, just three days after Russia had made its presentation, the Dutch Government headlined that “JIT countries confirm their support for Dutch prosecution of MH17 suspects”, and opened: “On Wednesday in New York the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine confirmed their political support and cooperation with regard to the prosecution of MH17 suspects in the Netherlands.” The Dutch Government now will prosecute Russia for the MH17 downing.
Exactly a year before that, on 20 September 2017, the now 5 countries in the JIT had signed a joint “Memorandum of Understanding”, saying “Arrangements for signatories and other grieving nations to make financial contributions to the national proceedings in the Netherlands will be laid down in a financial memorandum of understanding” and that “This Memorandum will remain in effect for five years and will be automatically extended for successive five-year periods.” So, they intend to continue forever their ‘investigation’ into MH17, until they can present to the world evidence that Russia did it, and they are seeking from the global public, donations to help pay for this ‘investigation’. Apparently, they know that their present ‘case’ stinks. They don’t have any evidence (other than the doctored ‘evidence’ they had already stopped even citing) that Russia had been involved, at all, in this mass-murder.
When that U.S.-allied team had made its May 24th presentation, the serial numbers on the missile-fragments which were shown in the photos they presented, were not documented, at all, as to the missile’s provenance records — its ownership and location throughout its existence. Those numbers were visible on the missile-parts, but were simply ignored as tools by which to identify the missile’s provenance.
The JIT team isn’t asking Russia for the team to examine those logbooks that Russia had shown in its presentation on September 17th, but instead ignores the Russian presentation, perhaps hoping that the public won’t ever get to see this documentation, or even to know about it. But here it is, for anyone who wants to see it.
And here, again, is the lengthier presentation I provided on December 31st, that Ukraine perpetrated the MH17 shoot-down, for anyone who wants to see that.
This is the verdict that Ukraine’s Government vetoes, at the JIT. It certainly is not the JIT’s verdict. It can’t be.
As regards the 8 August 2014 agreement that all members of the JIT signed, the details of it remain secret to the present day. On 20 November 2014, Russian Television bannered “Dutch government refuses to reveal ‘secret deal’ into MH17 crash probe” and reported: “The Dutch government has refused to reveal details of a secret pact between members of the Joint Investigation Team examining the downed Flight MH17. If the participants, including Ukraine, don’t want information to be released, it will be kept secret. The respected Dutch publication [actually leading science publisher] Elsevier made a request to the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice under the Freedom of Information Act to disclose the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) agreement,” but that request was refused.
The MH17 case was fixed at its start, and the details of how it was, are to remain hidden forever. But the Dutch Government is seeking donations to help it to continue forever its prosecution against Russia, as the perpetrator of the MH17 shoot-down.
*Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010.