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Lavrov Calls For 'Unbiased' MH17 Probe After Dutch TV Claims


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Moscow is repeating its calls for "unbiased and transparent" investigation into downing of a passenger jet in eastern Ukraine in July following two media reports that added to evidence suggesting Russian-backed rebels shot it down.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke on March 19, after Dutch broadcaster RTL reported that a metal fragment from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 matches a Russian-made surface-to-air BUK rocket.

The 298 people who died when the jet was shot down are among more than 6,000 killed since April as a result of the conflict between the rebels and Ukrainian forces.

Kyiv and its Western supporters blamed the rebels for the disaster, which stiffened the resolve of Western governments to impose sanctions against both leading separatists and Moscow.

Russia has suggested that the airliner was downed by the Ukrainian military, but has provided little if any evidence.

Reuters was among the first news agencies to report on RTL's claim, and a Reuters report last week cited residents of a village in a separatist-controlled part in eastern Ukraine as saying they saw a missile flying low overhead on the day of the crash, suggesting it was also fired from rebel-held territory.

According to state-run Russian news agency TASS, Lavrov said the "the reports published by Reuters are a sort of 'injection of information.'"

Dutch authorities are investigating the cause of the crash, many of whose victims were Dutch passengers headed from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

The Dutch Safety Board said on March 19 that its investigation was in "full progress and focuses on many more sources than only the shrapnel."

"Additional investigation material is welcome, but it is imperative that it can be indisputably shown that there is a relationship between the material and the downed aircraft," the safety board said in a statement.

In preliminary conclusions published last year, the board said the plane had been hit by high velocity projectiles but did not specify the source.

With reporting by TASS and Reuters
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