The diplomatic row is deepening between Russia and the Netherlands over the downing of Flight MH17 in Ukraine.
Both countries have summoned each other’s ambassadors for explanations, after Moscow rejected the findings of international investigators implicating Russia in the tragedy, 2 years ago.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has dismissed evidence used in the probe as coming from social media and unnamed witnesses.
Key conclusions in Wednesday’s report were that the plane was hit by a Russian-made Buk-missile fired from a village held by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine; and that the launcher was transported into the country from Russia.
The investigators, from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine, said they had not had access to Moscow’s radar images but would gladly include a Russian contribution to the inquiry.
All 298 people on board, most of them Dutch, were killed.
The findings counter Moscow’s suggestion that the passenger plane, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was brought down by Ukraine’s military rather than the separatists.
Russia – which has always denied Moscow or pro-Russian rebels were responsible – says the report’s
conclusions were not supported by technical evidence and that the inquiry was biased.
In reaction to the investigators’ findings, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called on Russia “to lend all possible cooperation” to the inquiry, which will now shift its focus to identifying individual suspects.
Prosecutors said that while they had not brought charges against culprits or established a court, they had identified 100 individuals of interest in relation to the incident on July 17, 2014.
On Friday, the Dutch Foreign Ministry summoned Russia’s ambassador in The Hague for a diplomatic rebuke after Moscow’s remarks critical of the investigation.
Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said Russian reactions to the investigation’s findings “cast doubt on the integrity, professionalism and independence” of the investigators.
“The Russian Ambassador has been made to understand that such unfounded criticism is unacceptable,” the ministry said in a statement.
On Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry will summon the Dutch ambassador in Moscow to explain
Russia’s reasons for not accepting the findings.
Ukrainian and Western officials, citing intelligence intercepts, have long blamed the pro-Russian rebels for the incident, which played a big part in a decision by the EU and US to impose sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine conflict and has damaged Dutch-Russian economic ties.