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Russia ‘Accountable’ for Downed Airliner, Australia and Netherlands Say

In a statement, the Dutch cabinet acknowledged that “Holding a country responsible is a complex legal process.” But, the statement added, “This is the legal avenue that the Netherlands and Australia have now chosen to pursue.”

Russia has repeatedly rejected the Western charges and has long insisted that it had no part in the shooting down of the plane. On Friday, Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said that Russia “absolutely” denied involvement.

The investigators refrained from blaming Russian soldiers directly for firing the missile, which could have been launched by Ukrainian separatists.

Russia ‘Accountable’ for Downed Airliner, Australia and Netherlands Say
Russia ‘Accountable’ for Downed Airliner, Australia and Netherlands Say

Debris from the attack — the worst single act of bloodletting during the now four-year-old Ukraine war — was strewn over a wide area. Dutch and Australian emergency workers found missile fragments and detritus from the Boeing 777 that were later used to identify the weapon.

The plan by the Dutch and Australian authorities comes as Moscow is trying to cope with onerous sanctions imposed as punishment for annexing Crimea, its support of separatists in eastern Ukraine and meddling in the United States presidential election.

The role played by President Vladimir V. Putin in supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria against Western-backed rebels has also set Moscow against the West in a multifaceted confrontation that has prompted some Westerners to speak of a new Cold War.

Separately on Friday, Bellingcat, an investigative group that conducts research with open-source information, said it had identified a second high-ranking Russian military intelligence commander said to have been active in eastern Ukraine at the time the plane was brought down.

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