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Live Blog: Ukraine In Crisis (ARCHIVE)

Follow all of the developments as they happen

Pro-Russian separatists assemble on July 16 on the field where MH17 crashed almost one year ago, killing all 298 on board.
18:18 16.7.2015

18:14 16.7.2015

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland discussed the Minsk agreement with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in Kyiv today.

17:40 16.7.2015

President Poroshenko repeats that the Donbas will not be given any special status in the constitution.

15:22 16.7.2015

Putin Says MH17 Tribunal Would Be ‘Premature, Counterproductive’

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that setting up a UN tribunal to prosecute suspects in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine would be “premature" and "counterproductive.”

The Kremlin says Putin made the comments in a phone call with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on July 16, a day before the first anniversary of the tragedy in which all 298 aboard the aircraft were killed, many of them Dutch.

Rutte has said a UN tribunal would give "the best guarantee of cooperation from all countries" in seeking justice for the families of the victims.

The Dutch Safety Board's draft investigative report on the incident blames pro-Russian separatists for shooting down the Boeing 777, according to a CNN report.

Russian officials have suggested Ukrainian forces shot the aircraft down, a charge denied by Kyiv.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters
15:20 16.7.2015

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14:40 16.7.2015

Ukraine Parliament Sends Draft Constitutional Changes To Court

By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

KYIV -- Ukrainian lawmakers have voted to send President Petro Poroshenko’s proposed constitutional changes to the Constitutional Court.

According to the draft amendments, "a special law will regulate peculiarities of local self-government” in the districts, which are being held by Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Poroshenko submitted the bill to parliament on July 15 after coming under pressure from Western leaders to grant the areas some powers of self-rule as part of the cease-fire deal agreed in Minsk in February.

But the rebels have insisted that the special status of the districts they control should be mentioned in the constitution.

14:22 16.7.2015

Leaked MH17 Draft Report Points To Pro-Russian Rebels


The Dutch Safety Board's draft investigative report on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 blames pro-Russian separatists for shooting down the Boeing 777 nearly a year ago, killing all 298 passengers and crew members, according to a CNN report.

The secret draft report is several hundred pages long.

On June 2, it was distributed for review to agencies and other accredited representatives in the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team -- including the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration, and Boeing.

Other members of the investigating team are from Malaysia, Australia, Britain, Russia, and Ukraine.

The recipients of the secret draft report have until August 1 to submit comments.

The Dutch Safety Board will then draw up its definitive final report, which is expected to be released in October.

On July 16, a day before the first anniversary of the tragedy, CNN revealed details from sources who have seen the draft.

Two sources told CNN the Dutch-led investigators concluded that MH17 was shot down by a Russian surface-to-air Buk missile fired from a village in separatist-controlled territory of eastern Ukraine.

Both sources said the Dutch Safety Board also puts some blame on Malaysia Airlines for dispatching the plane over the conflict zone en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

A Russian Buk-1M air-defense missile system is seen at an open-air military exhibition near Moscow in June.
A Russian Buk-1M air-defense missile system is seen at an open-air military exhibition near Moscow in June.

They said investigators faulted the airline for not reading other countries' warning notices to airmen, known as NOTAMs, that might have steered them away from airspace over the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The Dutch Safety Board says it will not comment on its "confidential draft final report."

In Washington, both the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration refused to comment on the investigation or on the leaked findings.

In their preliminary report released in September, the Dutch-led investigators announced that the plane's fuselage had been pierced from the outside by a large number of "high-energy objects."

Those findings were consistent with a fragmentation warhead like the one carried by a Buk antiaircraft missile.

Fred Westerbeke of the Dutch National Prosecutors Office told reporters in September that MH17 "most likely" had been shot down from the ground.

A pro-Russian separatist officer told AP after the disaster that the plane had been shot down by a mixed team of separatists and Russian military personnel who thought they were targeting a Ukrainian military plane.

Audio recordings of intercepted phone conversations between the separatists that were released by the Ukrainian government support that version of events.

Westerbeke warned that the difficulties of carrying out an investigation in a conflict zone like eastern Ukraine meant that a suspect may never be identified and brought to trial.

Igor Girkin
Igor Girkin

But on July 15, a lawsuit filed in a U.S. court accused Igor Girkin, the former commander of pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine known as "Strelkov," of orchestrating the shoot-down.

Filed in Chicago, the lawsuit also alleges that Girkin acted with the blessings of the Kremlin when his forces fired at the Boeing 777.

Lawyer Floyd Wisner is using the U.S. Torture Victim Protection Act, which can be used against foreign nationals, to bring the case against Girkin in a U.S. court.

The lawsuit seeks $900 million for families of 18 MH17 passengers.

Wisner said the case "is not about money. It is about getting answers from Girkin and putting pressure on Russia to cooperate" with an international tribunal to bring criminal charges against those responsible.

Malaysia and other countries participating in the Joint Investigation Team have been pushing for the establishment of a UN-mandated international tribunal that would prosecute those who are accused of shooting down the plane.

But Russia said on July 9 that it would oppose a UN Security Council resolution to establish such a tribunal.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on July 11 in Kuala Lumpur that investigators are "really close to naming those guilty."

He also called "on all nations concerned to provide the fullest cooperation, so that we will be able to gather irrefutable evidence as to what happened -- and especially as to who were responsible for this unforgivable incident."

With reporting by CNN, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Telegraph, and The Guardian
13:40 16.7.2015

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