Alphen, Netherlands. 17 July. This time last year I was at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. There is every reason to believe that I walked passed people making their way to check-in to Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. Many of them would have been excited by the prospect of a much-needed summer holiday in tropical climes. Some four hours later they were shot out of the sky over eastern Ukraine by a Russian BuK SA11 missile. Two hundred and ninety-eight people were murdered, the unwitting and latest victims of a war made in Moscow.
There is little chance that those responsible for this appalling act of mass murder will be brought to justice. Worse, Russia indicated this week it will do all it can to frustrate justice. Moscow continues its cynical effort to suggest that Ukrainian forces were somehow responsible.
For the record, the missile was fired from a Russian BuK SA11 system that had crossed the border from Russia into Ukraine the days before the disaster. It was under the control of Russian military intelligence (GRU) and manned by separatists who had been inadequately trained in Russia under GRU supervision. Indeed, there is evidence GRU personnel were either on board the launcher or close by. Lacking its main radar system the launcher was unable to identify whether the airliner was friend or foe. The crew assumed it to be a Ukrainian transport aircraft.
Moscow did not order the launch and was as horrified as the rest of us by what happened. However, Russia bears as much responsibility for this act of mass slaughter as the separatists who launched the missile. It is for that reason Moscow will do all in its power to prevent the full facts from ever being agreed, even if they are well known.
My thoughts are with all the victims of the appalling war that is still disfiguring Europe. However, this morning you will forgive me if my particular thoughts are with the 90 people from the region in which I live including a colleague of my wife at Tilburg University and his family who lost their lives a year ago on MH17. My thoughts are also with the bereaved all around me who must be going through hell this morning.
Rest in Peace!