‘No proof’ Russians downed MH17: Putin

By AAP Newswire

Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected charges against Russian citizens for their alleged roles in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine five years ago.

The international team investigating the 2014 disaster announced murder charges against three Russians and one Ukrainian on Wednesday for their alleged roles in the attack, which killed all 298 people on board.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Putin said "there is no proof whatsoever" behind the charges and criticised the investigators, saying they ignored evidence provided by Russia.

He blamed Ukraine for setting the stage for the tragedy, saying they failed to close their airspace to commercial flights despite the separatist fighting in the east.

Putin said Russia remained open for dialogue on the case.

Dutch National Police chief Wilbert Paulissen identified Russians Igor Girkin, Sergei Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov, along with Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, as suspects in the downing of the plane in Ukrainian air space, and announced that their trial would start in March 2020.

There are no plans to seek the extradition of the four.

All passengers and crew on board the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were killed on July 17 2014, when a missile shattered the Boeing 777 in midair, sending debris and bodies raining down onto farms and fields of sunflowers.