MH17: Timeline of a tragedy
Commemorating the victims
KYIV, 16 July 2015 – OSCE Special Monitoring Mission Chief Monitor Ertugrul Apakan will lead tomorrow a minute of silence in honour of the victims of flight MH17, downed over Ukraine one year ago... Read more
Timeline of a tragedy
On the afternoon of 17 July 2014, news quickly spread that a passenger airliner had come down in eastern Ukraine, in territory controlled by separatists of the so-called ‘Donetsk People's Republic’.
The Trilateral Contact Group of senior representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the OSCE acted quickly in convening a video conference with representatives of separatist groups in Donetsk. The representatives committed to allow both the monitors and international investigators access to the crash site.
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission pre-positioned in Donetsk on the morning of 18 July. The crash site was in the same area of Donetsk region as four civilian OSCE monitors were detained for over a month, being released only a few weeks before.
Despite the assurances of the separatists as well as an international outcry, the monitors were initially given only very limited access to the crash site. They vowed to return until full access was granted and the security situation could be fully assessed.
Around the same time as the monitors arrived to the crash scene, the OSCE Permanent Council issued a declaration calling for access for the OSCE monitors, and a full international investigation.
The team returned to the crash site on 19th July, and gained only a little more access. On the 20th, they surveyed the bodies which had been transferred to refrigerated train cars at Torez railway station.
They then returned on the 21st, along with Dutch investigators, who supervised the sealing of the train cars.
The photos in the gallery above are mostly from 20 July, when the monitors were finally given more freedom to examine the site. The job of the monitors is not to assign blame for the incident, but only to find facts about the security situation in the areas, and report back to the OSCE participating states.
The team issued a spot report of their visit to the impact site on 21 July where they observed the loading of body bags on to the refrigerated carriages of a train bound for Kharkiv.
The monitors publish reports each day for the press and the public. You can also find online constantly updated information on the OSCE response to the crisis in and around Ukraine.
The SMM team were in contact with the media throughout the operation, and have continued to do so to ensure transparency about their role in Ukraine, and to provide impartial information about the situation on the ground.
OSCE assists international investigators
The conflict in eastern Ukraine made the removal of MH17 wreckage impossible for several months. On 11 November 2014, the SMM facilitated access for the MH17 recovery team to the MH17 crash site (Rozsypne and Hrabove villages).
The purpose of the visit by the MH17 recovery team was to carry out site surveys for subsequent wreckage removal and search for human remains.
After numerous negotiations led by the SMM, the agreement on the start of debris removal from the crash site was reached with all the sides. On 14 November 2014, the recovery work began. The SMM continued to facilitate access to the crash site during the entire recovery process.
On 23 November 2014, recovery of the wreckage from the MH17 crash was completed and debris sent to Kharkiv for further transportation to the Netherlands.
Without the efforts of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe the Netherlands would never have been able to make so much progress in repatriating human remains, personal belongings and wreckage from flight MH17.
Bert Koenders Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
OSCE Ministerial Council, 4 December 2014
The OSCE, and the SMM in particular, will continue to do the utmost within their mandate in order to facilitate investigation of the tragic crash of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine.