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Russia faces UN criticism over role in downing of Malaysian jet

The wreckage of flight MH17 is seen after the presentation of the investigation report on the cause of its crash on Oct. 13, 2015 in Gilze-Rijen, Netherlands. A mysterious man wanted in connection with the deadly downing of Malaysia Air Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 appears to be a high-level Russian military intelligence officer, an investigation by a team of reporting outlets has found. (Sylvia Lederer/Xinhua/Zuma Press/TNS)

Russia faced harsh criticism at the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday for its role in the 2014 downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet and for its continuing involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.

Days after an investigation by Australia and the Netherlands found that a Russian missile struck the plane carrying 298 people, many of them Dutch citizens, Stef Blok, the Netherlands’ minister of foreign affairs, said that Russia was continuing to “spread impossible alternative theories” about the crash and should acknowledge its role.

“No state has the right to remain silent,” Blok said. “Quite the contrary, it has a duty to cooperate constructively, to shed light on the truth, not to obscure it with continuous mist. I call on the Russian Federation to take its responsibility.”

Echoing comments made by President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg last week, Russia’s U.N. envoy, Vasily Nebenzya, said his country could only trust investigations in which it is a “fully fledged participant.”

Putin rejected accusations that the Russian military bears responsibility for the crash, despite findings that the plane was brought down by a Buk missile belonging to an anti-aircraft missile brigade of the Russian army based in the western city of Kursk. Russia backs separatists in eastern Ukraine and annexed Crimea in 2014.

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“There are different versions of this tragedy, but no one takes them into account,” Putin told the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said his country and Australia, which also lost many of its citizens on the flight, would pursue Russia over its violation of international law, adding that he expects Moscow to “fully cooperate” with the investigation.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was flying over eastern Ukraine en route to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, when it was shot down. The episode sparked Western sanctions on Russia for its support of the separatists. The results of the investigation are fueling tensions with Europe in the wake of a nerve-agent poisoning of a former Russian spy in England.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the U.S. supports Australia and the Netherlands in their findings and called on Russia to withdraw from Crimea.

“Until Russia ends its outrageous actions in Ukraine, the position of the United States will not waver,” she said. “U.S. sanctions related to the invasion of Crimea will continue.”

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(With assistance from Henry Meyer and Joost Akkermans.)

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© 2018 Bloomberg News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.