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Dutch authorities release MH17 probe reports

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The Hague: Dutch authorities on Tuesday released the findings of their probe into the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash over the conflict-hit region in eastern Ukraine in July 2014, in which all 298 people on board were killed.

The Dutch Safety Board (DSB) presented its findings first to the victims’ families and relatives and then to the media at the Gilze-Rijen military base in the Netherlands.

Relatives of the victims have confirmed that the DSB reports concluded that the MH17 was hit by a Russian-made Buk missile, The Guardian reported.

Speaking to reporters in the Hague after being shown early copies of the report, relatives also revealed that all the passengers died or lost consciousness as soon as the missile hit. Buk missile shrapnel was found inside the bodies of some of the crew members.

The investigators are due to release an animated simulation of what they think happened to MH17.

Barry Sweeney, whose son Liam died in the crash, told BBC that according to investigators, the cockpit was hit first and broke off from the rest of the plane.

“It hit the cockpit first, killing all three in the cockpit. The cockpit then broke off probably creating confusion in the rest of the plane. Hopefully most people were unconscious by the time this happened.”

“We can’t be 100 percent sure (that nobody suffered on the flight) but we’ve got to sort of think that was the case.”

He said investigators concluded that the missile was fired from a 320 km.sq. area.

Sweeney said the relatives would have to wait for the criminal report early next year to find out more about what happened.

The flight was en route from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur and was travelling over the conflict-hit Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014 when it came down. Those killed in the crash comprised 283 passengers – of which 80 were children – and 15 crew members.

(IANS)

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Putin Inaugurated Bridge That Links Russian Mainland to Crimea

Relations between Russia and Ukraine remain extremely fraught as a simmering conflict continues between Kiev and Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine's southeast.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has inaugurated a highly-controversial bridge linking the Russian mainland to Crimea, tightening Russias hold over the contested peninsula which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Position of Crimea. Pixabay

Russian President Vladimir Putin has inaugurated a highly-controversial bridge linking the Russian mainland to Crimea, tightening Russias hold over the contested peninsula which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

The 19-km, $3.7 billion bridge is Moscow’s only direct road link to Crimea. Russia expects it will carry millions of cars and rail travellers and millions of tonnes of cargo each year. Previously, all car traffic passed over the Kerch strait by ferry or by passing through Ukraine, the Guardian reported.

On Tuesday, Putin drove an orange Kamaz truck across the bridge as he opened the road to car traffic. “In different historical epochs, even under the tsar priests, people dreamed of building this bridge,” Putin told workers at the ceremony.

“Then they returned to this (idea) in the 1930s, the 40s, the 50s. And finally, thanks to your work and your talent, the miracle has happened.”

The Russian state media touted the bridge as the “construction of the century”. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany had considered and then scrapped plans to build a bridge over the Kerch strait.

Relations between Russia and Ukraine remain extremely fraught as a simmering conflict continues between Kiev and Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine’s southeast.

In 2016, the US imposed sanctions on Russian companies that were helping to build the bridge across the Kerch strait. Ukraine said the construction of the bridge showed “blatant disregard for international law”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has inaugurated a highly-controversial bridge linking the Russian mainland to Crimea, tightening Russias hold over the contested peninsula which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Vladimir Putin opened the bridge from Russia to Crimea. wikimedia commons

The US State Department said that “the bridge impeded ship navigation and goods delivery in the area and therefore it was watching the situation closely”.

The Russian embassy, however, said that “the US remarks were predictable and Moscow was not asking anyone’s authorization for building infrastructure projects on its territory.

“As one could predict, Washington is not happy with that. But Crimea is Russia,” the Russian embassy said in a statement.

“We shall not ask for anybody’s permission to build transport infrastructure for the sake of the population of Russian regions.”

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The bridge’s construction was led by Stroygazmontazh, whose owner, Arkady Rotenberg, has close connections to the Kremlin. Rotenberg was Putin’s judo sparring partner.

He was hit with sanctions by the US for his proximity to Putin and by the EU for being among those accused of undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

The bridge was completed six months ahead of schedule, according to Russian state news agencies. It can reportedly carry up to 40,000 cars per day, its span is greater than that of the Vasco da Gama bridge in Portugal, previously the longest in Europe. (IANS)