“With regard to airspace management, this issue has also been highlighted in the technical investigation, and there is a separate section in the final report. It was concluded within the framework of this investigation that Ukraine had acted in accordance with the mandatory standards and recommended practices of ICAO effective at the time of the MH17 crash. It should be noted that the report makes no reference to the fact that the crash was caused by the airspace non-closure by Ukraine,” Ukrainian Ambassador to the Netherlands Vsevolod Chentsov said in an interview with Ukrinform.
According to him, this topic was also discussed during the visit of Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok to Kyiv on October 9, and the corresponding hearings in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Ukrainian Parliament were held on the eve of his visit.
The ambassador stressed that neither Ukraine nor the Western special services, politicians, diplomats had the information about the threats to aviation safety above the airspace, which was closed by Ukraine, namely over 9,000 meters. Accordingly, there was no reason to completely close the airspace in that region.
“To date, accordingly, the airspace over the territory of the temporarily occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, with additional buffer airspace, is completely closed, i.e. additional security measures have been taken. What can we talk about now and why is it happening now? The relatives of the crash victims concern. They want to understand in more detail how things went, how Ukraine acted, but also how Russia acted. In particular, [they want to know] why did the Russian Federation close the sky over Rostov region? This is a big question and much attention will be paid to it. And to date, there have been no explanations from the Russian side. Therefore, if someone has something else to say, it is the Russian Federation: how it acted under those conditions and what were the reasons for closing the airspace,” the Ukrainian ambassador stressed.
According to Chentsov, Ukraine has provided all the available information and is ready to clarify again how it acted and how the known civil aviation risks were assessed at that time.
“But I repeat: there’s no question of a new investigation under ICAO provisions. It will be the examination of the practice of air traffic management in conflict situations, including the actions of Ukraine and the Russian Federation in July 2014. This will satisfy the interest of the Dutch society, first of all, the relatives of the victims who want to examine this issue in detail,” the diplomat said.
As reported, the Dutch Parliament supported the proposal of its members to further study the circumstances of non-closure of airspace over Donbas at the time of the MH17 flight crash.
Ukrainian officials have repeatedly stated that Ukraine acted in accordance with the effective ICAO provisions and, based on an analysis of the present risks, reported on the armed conflict and imposed bans on civil aviation flights. At first, it was prohibited to fly lower than 1.5 kilometers, then lower than 7,900 meters. On July 14, 2014, Ukraine imposed a ban on flying below 9,800 meters.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over Donbas in July 2014. There were 283 passengers and 15 crewmembers on board the plane. All of them died.
In September 2016, the JIT said it had been established on the basis of irrefutable evidence that the plane had been shot down by a 9M38 Buk missile launched from the territory controlled by pro-Russian militants in the eastern part of Ukraine. In addition, the JIT said on May 24 that the Buk missile system from which the aircraft was downed belongs to the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces stationed in Kursk.
In May 2018, the Netherlands and Australia officially stated that they hold the Russian state legally responsible for the downing of MH17.
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