Angry Russia hits back at Australia
RUSSIA has angrily hit back at Australia over claims it was responsible for the downing of MH17.
Ambassador Grigory Logvinov slammed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop after they accused the Russian Federation of being directly involved in the plane's fate on July 17, 2014.
The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) - comprised of Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine - released a report stating that the missile system used to bring down the plane was owned by the Russian army.
"Based on these findings, the only conclusion we can reasonably now draw is that Russia was directly involved in the downing of MH17," Ms Bishop and Mr Turnbull said in a statement.
"This evening Australia and the Netherlands notified the Russian Federation that we hold it responsible for its role in the downing. We have requested negotiations to open dialogue around the circumstances leading to the tragic loss of innocent lives.
"The Russian Federation must be held to account for its conduct in the downing of MH17 over eastern Ukraine, which resulted in the tragic deaths of 298 passengers and crew, including 38 people who called Australia home."
Mr Logvinov issued a furious press release in response, rejecting the report's findings.
"Despite of everything, all our efforts to commence a serious, solid and professional joint work are rejected out of hand," he said.
"There is a well-known style, a rough, clumsy algorithm. Dirty provocations are organised, and the guilty side is determined in advance.
"The so-called "investigation" is conducted almost completely on the basis of information from social networks and several international non-governmental organisations, which have tainted themselves long ago by fakes, forgeries, primitive fabrications and so on.
"This unworthy style is clearly observed in the so-called 'Skripal's case', Syrian chemical dossier, and previously, in the fabrication of pretexts for military invasion to Yugoslavia and Iraq."
Last week a high-ranking military officer from Russia was named as a person of interest over the atrocity.
The investigative site Bellingcat claimed it had identified the second of two men who the JIT has accused of being suspects after obtaining their wire-tapped conversations before and after the flight was shot out of the sky.
Bellingcat has alleged that both men are top-ranking Russian military officials.
"All points lead to a centralised military operation," Bellingcat researcher Moritz Rakuszitzky told reporters.
"Transporting and using a sophisticated anti-aircraft device such as the BUK is not something that either separatists or non-military mercenaries could ever be trusted with," he said.
Flight MH17 was headed from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when it was blown out of the sky over eastern Ukraine, 40km south of the Russian border, on July 17, 2014.
All 298 passengers and crew were killed, including 38 Australian citizens and residents.
Russia has always denied involvement in the downing of the jet.
This year's federal Budget allocated $50.3 million over four years to support the Dutch national prosecution of those responsible for the attack.
The money will meet Australia's share of the prosecution costs and help family members of the victims to participate in the court proceedings.
- With Megan Palin