Audio Links Vladimir Putin To Airline Disaster

( Earlier this week, international investigators said they found evidence that Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, probably signed off on supplying long-range anti-aircraft missile systems that ultimately shot down a Malaysia Airlines flight in 2014.

At a news conference held in The Hague this week held by The Joint Investigation Team, members said they came to the conclusion that Putin was involved based on different telephone conversations that were recorded between various Russian officials.

The prosecutors said that those who were recorded said that Putin was the only person who could have made the final decision to provide those missile systems to separatist forces stationed in Ukraine.

The Boeing 777 plane that was shot out of the sky on July 17, 2014, while it was traveling over the eastern part of Ukraine was done so by separatist forces aligned with the Kremlin.

The plane, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, was heading to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from Amsterdam. There were 298 total people on the flight, and all of them were killed as a result.

The BBC reported this week that the Joint Investigation Team revealed that the Russian officials who were on those recorded phone calls said that any decision to provide support militarily to those separatist forces back in 2014 “rests with the president.”

As the investigators explained at the news conference this week:

“There is concrete information that the separatists’ request was presented to the president [Putin], and that this request was granted.”

They also discovered “strong indications” that the Russian president approved supplying those weapons to the Russian separatists who ultimately shot the flight down. That being said, they admitted that their evidence “was not concrete enough” for them to be able to bring a prosecution against Putin.

Last November, a court in the Netherlands convicted two people who served as officers with the Russian security service, as well as one separatist leader from Ukraine, of murder for the role they played in the plane being shot down.

All three men received a sentence of life, but none have been extradited or even arrested yet.

The Joint Investigation Team consists of investigators from Ukraine, Belgium, Australia, Malaysia and the Netherlands. In the announcement the group made this week, they said that Putin enjoys some immunity since he’s the leader of Russia.

The country, though, has consistently denied that it was involved in any way in the flight being shot down.

Following the announcement from the Joint Investigation Team, Andriy Kostin, the prosecutor general for Ukraine, said he might try to pursue legal action against the Russian president over the role he is alleged to have played in the flight being shot down.

He tweeted:

“The conclusion of the Joint Investigation Team on the downing of MH17 flight: the RF’s president was the one to give the criminal order to supply weapons to the so-called DPR and LPR. This was the root cause of the tragedy that took the lives of 298 civilians.”

He added that the “difficulty of obtaining evidence and functional immunity” prevents national courts from prosecuting Putin. But, he said that Ukraine “will seek to employ all the existing international legal mechanisms to bring him to justice.”