Mar 15, 2022 - World

Australia and the Netherlands sue Russia over MH17 plane crash

A man looks at debris from an Malaysia Airlines plane crash on July 18, 2014 in Grabovka, Ukraine. Photo: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images
Debris from the Malaysia Airlines plane crash on July 18, 2014 in Grabovka, Ukraine. Photo: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Australia and the Netherlands are pursuing legal action against Russia's government over the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine more than seven years ago, officials from both nations announced Monday.

Why it matters: The two countries will allege Russia breached international aviation law in the 2014 crash, according to a statement from Australia's Foreign Ministry.

Driving the news: The two countries have launched a legal case against the Russian Federation in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for its alleged role in bringing down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014, per a statement from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

  • Flight MH17 was shot own by a Russian surface-to-air missile system over rebel-held eastern Ukraine en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 people on board.
  • Of those killed, 38 were Australian, the prime minister's office added. Most passengers were from the Netherlands.

What they're saying: "The Russian Federation's refusal to take responsibility for its role in the downing of flight MH17 is unacceptable and the Australian Government has always said that it will not exclude any legal options in our pursuit of justice," Morrison said in the statement.

  • "While we cannot take away the grief of those whose loved ones died as a result of Russia’s actions, the Australian Government will pursue every available avenue to ensure Russia is held to account so that this horrific act never happens again," he added.

Worth noting: Dutch officials said the move wasn't related to the Putin-ordered Russian invasion of Ukraine.

  • "‘We cannot and will not allow the death of 298 people, including 196 Dutch nationals, to go unanswered," said Dutch foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra."The current events in Ukraine underscore the vital importance of this."

The big picture: The Kremlin ceased negotiations in 2020 with Australian and Dutch officials regarding flight MH17.

  • The Netherlands has also sued Russia in the European Court of Human Rights, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle notes.
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