Published: Sat, November 16, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

MH17 probe reveals close ties between Russia, Ukraine rebels

MH17 probe reveals close ties between Russia, Ukraine rebels

Investigators said in a statement they were making a "new witness appeal" based on "recorded telephone calls between the leaders of the DPR (Donetsk People's Republic, a separatist group) and high-ranking Russian officials".

But the recordings and transcripts of intercepted phone calls made public on Thursday offered a new level of detail about Kremlin involvement in eastern Ukraine as rebels struggled to set up the institutions of a breakaway state, press their advantage with Kyiv and manage the fallout from the July 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17.

Other prominent individuals that JIT said were mentioned in the intercepts include Igor Girkin, a top separatist commander in eastern Ukraine who was among the four charged by Dutch prosecutors, and Sergei Aksyonov, who became the Russian-appointed leader in Crimea after Moscow annexed the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula in March 2014.

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The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) charged with investigating the causes of the crash of flight МН17 claims that representatives of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) contacted Russian-occupation forces in Donbas daily by telephone on administrative, financial and military issues by telephone daily.

An global inquiry into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 believes high-level Russian officials were directing separatists in eastern Ukraine linked to the attack.

Russia's foreign ministry dismissed the claims.

Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in the downing, but investigators say their probe reveals that "Russian influence on the DPR went beyond military support".

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"On Saturday, they are already departing for the south to be combat ready", he said.

The Malaysian Boeing, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on flight MH17, was shot down on July 17, 2014 near Donetsk in the zone of the armed conflict in Donbas.

A global group of investigators piecing collectively a felony state of affairs concerning the taking pictures down of Malaysia Airways Flight 17 over Ukraine say proof suggests one-way hyperlinks amongst Russian Federation and separatists within the location had been nearer than earlier believed.

A number of the calls involved Vladislav Surkov, a key aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the investigators said. One amongst them entails him promising defense force reinforcements from Russian Federation in 2014.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu is within the period in-between mentioned in a series of cell phone calls between rebels, with one in all them announcing that warring parties had been coming "with a mandate from Shoigu".

Investigators said they specifically wanted to know if Surkov and Shoigu "have a role in the planning and execution of military operations in the summer of 2014 in eastern Ukraine" when the flight was downed. The suspects are due to go on trial, probably in absentia, in April 2020. 196 of the victims had been Dutch.

Moscow on Thursday said it could not verify the authenticity of the intercepts.

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