Probe finds Russian missile brought down Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine in 2014

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The commercial Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014 was hit by a Russian surface-to-air missile, according to a report by Dutch investigators released on Wednesday.

According to the Washington Postthe investigation states that the missile, which downed the plane on July 17 and caused the deaths of all 298 passengers aboard, was a "9M38 series missile launched from a BUK trailer."

"This BUK trailer was brought in from the territory of the Russian Federation and after launch was subsequently returned to Russian Federation territory," Wilbert Paulissen, an investigator with the Dutch national police, told the Washington Post. "This conclusion is based largely on forensic investigation."

The missile has long been assumed to have been fired by pro-Moscow separatists, but Russia has denied involvement.

As recently as Monday, Russian officials tried to pin the attack on the Ukrainian government, using radio-location data to lend credibility to their case.

The reconstructed cockpit of Flight 17Source: Peter Dejong/AP
The reconstructed cockpit of Flight 17  Peter Dejong/AP

But the Wednesday report indicated that the missile that struck the airliner as it made its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lampur was, in fact, smuggled into Ukraine from Russia in July 2014, and that it was later returned to Russia. 

The Post reports that the investigation has isolated more than 100 suspects, and that evidence is being gathered for a future trial. According to Reuters, that trial would most likely be brought by the families of the victims.

At the time the missile was fired, pro-Russian separatists were clashing with Ukrainian government supporters over the annexation of the Crimean peninsula, which currently remains in Russian control. 

Dutch officials work to survey the remnants of the aircraft.Source: MENAHEM KAHANA/Getty Images
Dutch officials work to survey the remnants of the aircraft.  MENAHEM KAHANA/Getty Images

According to Reuters, Silene Fredriksz, whose 23-year-old son died in the crash alongside his girlfriend, said the families of the victims would not rest until all the answers pertaining to the crash had been unearthed.

"As a family, we are impatient. We want to know what happened, how it happened and why. We want those responsible to face justice," Fredriksz told Reuters.