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Australia Begin Legal Action Against Russia Over Downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

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The Australian and Dutch governments have filed a combined legal lawsuit against Russia over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

According to Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, all 298 passengers and crew members onboard the fatal airplane were slain by the Russian military.

On July 17, 2014, a Buk-TELAR surface-to-air missile system, which Australia believes was owned and managed by Russian forces, shot down a Boeing 777. There were 196 Dutch people and 38 Australians killed in the attack.

The Australian and Dutch governments stated in separate statements that they filed the legal action in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) after Russia unilaterally withdrew from the talks last October.

Since October 2018, Australia and the Netherlands have held Russia formally liable for the downing of MH17 under international law.

“We cannot and will not allow the death of 298 people, including 196 Dutch nationals, to go unanswered. The current events in Ukraine underscore the vital importance of this,” commented the Dutch foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra on Monday.

“The government will continue to do everything in its power to call Russia to account for the downing of flight MH17 and to uphold the international legal order.”

ICAO, a United Nations expert committee situated in Montreal, Canada, received papers earlier today. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) did not immediately respond to the news.

The Russian military transferred their surface-to-air missile system to a field in eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists on the morning of the disaster, according to the Australian government.

It was accompanied by a Russian crew, who either fired the weapon directly or ordered someone else to do so. The missile system was returned to Russian control shortly after MH17 was shot down.

“The Russian Federation’s refusal to take responsibility for its role in the downing of Flight MH17 is unacceptable and the Australian Government has always said that it will not exclude any legal options in our pursuit of justice,” Morrison said on Monday.

“Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine and the escalation of its aggression underscores the need to continue our enduring efforts to hold Russia to account for its blatant violation of international law and the UN Charter, including threats to Ukraine’s sovereignty and airspace.”

Since 2014, most airlines have avoided flying over eastern Ukraine, and more recently, overflights over the entire country have been prohibited due to President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the country.


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