MH17: Can Justice be Served?
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MH17: Can Justice be Served?
4th February 2021 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
On 17th July, 2014, passenger jet Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was destroyed over eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board were killed, their bodies strewn across the cornfields of east Ukraine. These people were victims of Russia’s proxy war in Ukraine, which rages to this day and has claimed over 13,000 lives.
Immediately after MH17 was downed, evidence began emerging of Russian involvement. The Joint Investigation Team painstakingly pieced together the evidence to demonstrate the culpability of regular Russian forces. On the basis of this evidence, on 9th March 2020, a trial began in the district court of The Hague of three Russians and one Ukrainian – still at large – for the murder of the 298 passengers.
With the pretrial stage completed in November last year, the MH17 trial will resume its hearing on 1st February. To mark this next stage in the fight for justice, The Henry Jackson Society has organised this event to discuss what hopes we can have for justice and eventual prosecution of those found guilty, as well as the complications raised by Russia’s continued denial and disinformation campaigns over MH17 and its continued occupation of Ukrainian territory.
His Excellency Vsevolod Chentsov is the Ukrainian ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, where he has closely followed the ongoing MH17 trial in The Hague. Prior to this, he served as Director of the EU department of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, and worked in the Ukrainian missions in Turkey and Poland. Ambassador Chentsov has also acted as Co-Agent of Ukraine in the “Ukraine vs Russia” case in the International Court of Justice.
Eliot Higgins is the founder of Bellingcat, an online open source investigative collective launched in July 2014, which since its launch has made public a number of major discoveries about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. This included tracking the Buk missile launcher that downed MH17 back to its base at the 53rd Air Defense Brigade near Kursk, Russia, identifying multiple individuals involved in the downing of the plane, including senior members of the Russain military and Russian intelligence services, and much more over dozens of articles. Bellingcat has won multiple awards thanks to its work on the MH17 investigation, including for Bellingcat’s 6 part podcast documentary on MH17. Bellingcat currently operates as a charity in the Netherlands.
Piet Ploeg is the chairman of Stichting Vliegramp MH17 (MH17 Disaster Foundation), which represents the relatives of the victims of MH17. Mr Ploeg lost his own brother, sister-in-law and nephew when the missile struck MH17. Since then, he has pursued justice tirelessly and has followed closely legal proceedings not only in The Hague but also at the ECHR, and has spoken on Russia’s disinformation campaigns to deny its culpability.
Major General Borys Kremenetskyi held various Air Force command, staff and administrative positions. From the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict, twice (from July till December 2015 and from July till December 2016) he had been deployed as Head of the Ukrainian side of the Joint Ceasefire Coordination and Control Centre for the Eastern Ukraine (JCCC). He followed as Defence and Air Attaché, Embassy of Ukraine to the United Kingdom (2017 – 2020), until taking over his current appointment as Defence Attaché, Embassy of Ukraine to the USA.
Dr Jade McGlynn is a Research Fellow specialising in Russian political culture and foreign relations at the Henry Jackson Society. She lived in Russia for five years and has worked across the broader post-Soviet space, from Ukraine to Kazakhstan.
Jade holds a DPhil in Russian from the University of Oxford, where she also gained her BA in Russian and Spanish. She also has a Masters by Research from the University of Birmingham. Her DPhil examined how the Russian government have used the politics of memory and national identity to legitimise Russian foreign and domestic policy. She is currently preparing a manuscript based on this research for publication in 2021, entitled Making History Great Again: The Politics of Memory and Belonging in Contemporary Russia. Jade has also published her research as articles, chapters, and reports in leading academic journals, collected volumes, and think tanks.
Prior to joining HJS, Jade worked as a Lecturer and Research Assistant at the University of Oxford, teaching papers in Russian language and literature, as well as courses on History as part of Oxford University’s new access outreach programme (Opportunity Oxford). She has also held fellowships and research positions at the University of Birmingham, University of Voronezh (Russia), and Middlebury Institute of International Relations in Monterrey.
The Henry Jackson Society was delighted to welcome four leading voices in the drive for justice for the victims of the tragic downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. The speakers all approached the key question of how do you gain justice for civilians when a major international power refuses to follow international conventions and regulations? Chaired by HJS Research Fellow Jade McGlynn, the conversation touched on the importance of the rule of law, Russian authorities use of disinformation and the importance of international co-operation to hold those culpable to account for their actions. Of particular interest was Mr Ploeg’s insightful point that commercial airlines still do not seem to have learnt the lessons from MH17, and continue to fly over combat zones and contested airspace.