Monday 17 January 2022

Fighting forces MH17 investigators in Ukraine to turn back again

Dutch investigators heading for the MH17 crash zone in Ukraine were forced to turn back on Monday because it was too dangerous to proceed.

It is the second day in a row that the Dutch and Australian team has been unable to reach the crash site because of the fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels.

In total, 26 Dutch investigators and military police officers and 11 Australians had left in convoy from Donetsk for the area where the Malaysia Airways plane crashed over a week ago.

Foreign minister Frans Timmermans is also again in Ukraine in an effort to secure safe passage for the investigators and to talk to the Ukrainian parliament.

Missile

Meanwhile, experts in Kiev on Monday claimed they have proof the Boeing 777 carrying 298 people was hit by a missile and brought down by the explosion, news agency AFP reports.

The Dutch parliament will debate the latest events on Tuesday morning. The cabinet has now dropped its plans to send a military mission to secure the site of the crash of Malaysia Airways flight MH17, saying it would be too dangerous.

Such a mission would mean other countries getting involved in a regional conflict, prime minister Mark Rutte told reporters, following a cabinet meeting on Sunday.

Priority

The repatriation of the bodies of the 298 people who died when the Boeing 777 was apparently hit by a missile over a week ago, remains the Dutch priority. That aim will be endangered if the situation in the region escalates, Rutte said.

‘We have discussed all the scenarios over the past few days, including with military experts,’ Rutte said.

‘We have to state that a military mission could lead to an escalation, to a dangerous situation, and that could get in the way of our main target, that of bringing back the victims.’

‘Our conclusion is that it would not be realistic to aim for military dominance using an international mission,’ Rutte said.

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