Australia, Netherlands begins legal action against Russia over downing of Malaysia Airlines flight

Australia and the Netherlands announced on Monday that they are initiating legal proceedings against Russia in the International Civil Aviation Organization for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in 2014 that resulted in the deaths of nearly 300 people.

“We have maintained since May 2018 that the Russian Federation is responsible under international law for the downing of Flight MH17,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office said in a statement.

“Today’s joint action by Australia and the Netherlands is a major step forward in both countries’ fight for truth, justice and accountability for this horrific act of violence, which claimed the lives of 298 victims, 38 of whom called Australia home,” he added .

In 2014, a Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 283 passengers and 15 crew members was shot down while flying over eastern Ukraine. The crew was made up of Malaysians, while the majority of the passengers were Dutch. Australian, British and Malaysian citizens were also among the passengers.

Australia maintains that the plane was shot down by a Russian Buk-TELAR surface-to-air missile system after the system had been transported to a region of Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists. In 2018, both Australia and the Netherlands found Russia to be responsible.

In 2020, Russia withdrew from negotiations regarding the downing of the flight.

“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,” Morrison’s office said.

Dutch foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra said in a statement, “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.”

“We can not 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,” he added.

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