Dutch ministers knew about Ukraine airspace dangers prior to MH17 crash

AANKOMST MH17 SLACHTOFFERS HILVERSUMUkraine had informed the Netherlands about the dangerous situation in its airspace prior to the MH17 crash but ministers did not pass the information on to airlines, Dutch media say on Friday.

The claims are based on written answers by ministers about the MH17 air disaster in July. MPs had asked the government to clarify the situation following claims ministers knew about the risks.

Three days before the disaster, a Ukrainian cargo plane was shot down above the eastern part of the country where pro-Russian rebels are fighting government forces. A spokesman updated ‘diplomats from a wide group of friendly countries’ about this in a briefing. This group included a Dutch diplomat in Kiev.




The report which was drawn up after that briefing was sent to The Hague and circulated to various ministries, news agency ANP says.

The bringing down of the cargo plane marked an escalation in the conflict, Nos says. Until then, it had been assumed the rebels could not attack air traffic.

Conflict

Ministers said in their answers the meeting was not meant to warn other countries but that Ukraine wanted to encourage the international community to take a stand against Russian ‘meddling’ in the conflict.

‘This was the main message of the briefing,’ ministers said.

‘The bringing down of a military aircraft earlier in the day was mentioned by the Ukrainian minister of foreign affairs as an example of an escalation in the conflict and the role of Russia in this,’ the cabinet wrote.

The shooting down of the cargo plane was widely known and had been reported in the media, the ministers are quoted as saying by ANP.

Flight paths

Other airlines changed their flight paths not because of the situation in eastern Ukraine but because of the unrest following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the briefing stated.

Asked if the Dutch government had given a warning signal to airlines about safety in Ukrainian airspace, justice minister Ivo Opstelten and foreign minister Bart Koenders answered ‘no’, Nos says.

CDA MP Pieter Omtzigt said the ministers’ answers are insufficient. ‘It is clear that multiple ministries were aware of the security situation. I want to know exactly what was shared and with whom,’ he told website nu.nl.

On Tuesday the Dutch security service regulator said it was investigating exactly what the security services knew about the situation in eastern Ukraine prior to the MH17 crash.


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