DAVID KOCH The final verdict on the MH17 atrocity confirms what we've long suspected - a Russian-built missile brought down the ill-fated jet and killed the 298 people on board. Dutch investigators have released their report and revealed the last shocking moments for the plane and passengers.
This is what remains of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 - twisted fragments of its metal skin peppered with blast holes and reconstructed in a painstaking 15-month investigation by the Dutch Safety Board. 15 months after the plane crashed over rebel-controlled Eastern Ukraine, Dutch investigators have released their findings.
Clip: Flight MH17 crashed as a result of the detonation of a warhead outside the aeroplane above the left-hand side of the cockpit. This warhead was of the 9N314M type carried on the kind of missile that is installed on the Buk surface-to-air missile system.
The report confirms that MH17 was shot down by a Russian-made missile used by both Ukrainian and Russian forces. It detonated beside the cockpit, killing three crew members instantly. The report claims Ukraine should have already closed the airspace over the area where the plan came down. There were 298 passengers on board the flight from the Netherlands to Kuala Lumper when it crashed, including 38 Australians.
The West and Ukraine believe the plane was shot down by Russian-backed rebels, but the Russian missile manufacturers have held their own briefing claiming the Buk missile used was decades old and fired from an area under Ukrainian control. This final report tells us what happened to MH17 but not who was responsible. A criminal investigation continues. For more on this I'm joined by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop from Boston.
Foreign Minister, good morning to you.
JULIE BISHOP Good morning Kochie.
DAVID KOCH It has been a 15-month wait for this report. Are you happy with the extent of the investigation, and will Australian victims, the families of those victims be happy with it do you think?
JULIE BISHOP 15 months on from this atrocity we are still grieving with the family and loved ones of those aboard MH17. I am pleased that this report has now been concluded. It was carried out by the Dutch Safety Board into the cause of the crash. It did not investigate who was responsible for the downing of MH17. It has confirmed what Australia thought from the outset that is that it was brought down by a Russian manufactured surface-to-air Buk missile and that is in fact the case. Any other cause has been ruled out emphatically.
The families have learned how the crash happened but we are still to learn who was behind it because there is a criminal investigation still underway and Australia is involved in that investigation. The Dutch Safety Board report appears to have been meticulously put together. It is a very detailed forensic investigation and whilst it gives little comfort to the families and loved ones of those aboard, at least we now know the cause of the crash for absolute certain.
DAVID KOCH How long will the criminal investigation take? When will that be concluded?
JULIE BISHOP We hope that most of its work will be concluded by the end of this year. The five countries involved in the Joint Investigation Team including Ukraine, Australia, Netherlands, Malaysia and Belgium have been working very closely together to gather evidence from many sources and it is a very detailed, meticulous investigation but I expect that they should be almost at close by the end of this year.
DAVID KOCH How determined are you to get to the bottom of this because the Russians have come out and put their spin on it again saying it was an old missile, you know, it was launched by the Ukrainians. It just smells of us being bullied by the Russians again.
JULIE BISHOP We certainly won't be bullied by anyone in our pursuit of justice for the families of those aboard, particularly the 38 victims who called Australia home. Russia has had some time to prepare its response to this report because a draft report was released earlier. So the response is not unexpected. However the criminal investigation will continue.
We now know that it was a Russian manufactured missile from the Buk weapons system and that it was fired from an area in eastern Ukrainian. So that will add to the task of the Criminal Investigation Team in putting together a brief which then must be presented to a prosecuting authority. That's what Australia and the other members of the Joint Investigation Team are doing now. That is, finding the most effective way of holding those responsible to account once the Criminal Investigation Team report has been concluded.
DAVID KOCH It is great to hear you are just as determined. You won't be bullied by the Russians. That's great. We have to get to the bottom of it. This report out today also says that Ukrainian authorities should have closed the airspace over the war torn area. This week European authorities have warned that missiles being fired into Syria, again by Russia, could cross under the flight path of passenger planes over the Middle East. Should we be taking steps just to close that area off to commercial airlines, Qantas, every other airline?
JULIE BISHOP It is quite clear that this atrocity in eastern Ukraine has now alerted the globe to the possibility that commercial aircraft in commercial airspace, albeit over a conflict zone, could be shot down. It was assumed that planes flying at 30,000 feet or more would be safe over conflicts but I think this has certainly awakened the globe to the possibility.
Airlines like Qantas already take action to avoid conflict zones and the government is working very closely with our airlines to ensure that the safety of passengers aboard these flights is absolutely paramount. We will continue to heed all international warnings as well as our own intelligence in this regard to advise Qantas and other airlines of what we know and to avoid situations which would put passengers in danger.
DAVID KOCH Okay, Julie Bishop, thank you for joining us. Good luck with getting that criminal investigation concluded. I appreciate your time.
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