Police are now also investigating officials of the Russian government. Russian President Vladimir Putin during a military exercise. How far does Russia's support for the Ukrainian separatists go? Police investigators publish new evidence. They are targeting the Russian government.
As part of the investigation into the shooting down of the MH17 passenger plane over the contested eastern Ukraine, the international police team presents new evidence pointing to a direct involvement of the Russian government. According to witnesses, the links between the separatist leadership and Russia are closer and more intense than ever before. The contacts clearly went beyond military aid. That would be a sensation, because Russia vehemently denies to support the separatists militarily or to steer them.
Putin adviser announced reinforcement
As additional evidence, the "Joint Investigation Team" published, among other things, recorded telephone calls. According to them, Vladislav Surkov, a close advisor to Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin, can be heard on the phone. He seems to be announcing troop reinforcements to the temporary leader of the separatist republic, Alexander Borodai: "On Saturday they will already be heading south to be ready for battle.
In another telephone conversation with a stranger, Borodai explains: "Well, your plans are far-reaching. Not mine. I carry out orders and protect the interests of a single state, the Russian Federation. That's the crux of the matter." In another phone call he apparently also reports about soldiers sent by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
Chain of command from the Kremlin?
The new evidence suggests a chain of command from the Kremlin to the separatist territories. All suspects are currently in Russia. The investigators now want to find out exactly who controlled and commanded the rebels. Already in July, the Dutch judiciary had accused four Russians - former secret service agents and elite soldiers - of being the backers of the shooting down of the MH17 and has been searching for them ever since with international arrest warrants.
Russia has so far denied any participation in the 2014 shooting down or in the other fighting in Eastern Ukraine, but does not want to extradite the suspects either. Investigators in the Netherlands continue to call witnesses to report. When the plane was launched, all 298 people on board died. According to United Nations estimates, almost 13,000 people died in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine by the beginning of the year.
Francis Tawiah (Duisburg -Germany)
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