RAAF C-17s together with a RNLAF KDC-10 at Eindhoven, the Netherlands, on 1 August 2014 (Image © Elmer van Hest)

MH17 mission aborted

RAAF C-17s together with a RNLAF KDC-10 at Eindhoven, the Netherlands, on 1 August 2014 (Image © Elmer van Hest)
RAAF C-17s together with a RNLAF KDC-10 at Eindhoven, the Netherlands, on 1 August 2014 (Image © Elmer van Hest)

The Dutch-Australian-Malaysian mission to repatriate all victims of flight MH17 has been aborted fairly suddenly on Friday 8 August 2014. The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 was shot down over Eastern Ukraine on 17 July by an advanced surface-to-air missile believed to have been provided by Russia to pro-Russian separatists, killing all 298 people on board.

Unarmed multi-national personnel deployed to Eastern Ukraine to search in the war stricken area flew back to the Netherlands Friday morning on board a Royal Netherlands Air Force C-130H Hercules (28 Dutch, 10 Australians, 5 Malaysians) and a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster II (54 Dutch, 30 Australians, 15 Malaysians, 5 dogs). They left Kharkiv (Charkov) Airfield in Eastern Ukraine between 10:00 and 12:00 local time, landing at Eindhoven Airbase in the Netherlands around 15:00. Many of the Australians and Malaysians will fly home to their countries, with only a skeleton group staying for now.

Risks
With clashes between Ukrainian government and rebel forces in the area intensifying the situation became difficult for the unarmed search party to continue its work. “We cannot expose our people to unnecessary risks. We will go back when it is safe enough”, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said.

Involved
At the height of the mission that the Australians dubbed Bring Them Home three RAAF C-17s were involved at a time, joined by a RAAF KC-30. The RNLAF C-130s flew many times back and forth as well. Amongst the personnel deployed – unarmed – to Ukraine were 40 Dutch Military Police plus many other military and civilian specialists. 176 bodies and 527 body parts have been transported to the Dutch Army Base Korporaal van Oudheusdenkazerne in Hilversum near Amsterdam, were 40 experts work on the identification of the victims.

Invasion
That the mission was aborted fairly suddenly increases worries that Russia is on the brink of further involvement in the unstable situation in Eastern Ukraine, although Moscow denies it has any plans for an invasion and says many of the about 20,000 troops pulled together near Ukrainian borders for an exercise will return to their regular bases. Neither the European Union nor Canada and the USA believe in Russia’s good intentions. US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said on Friday: “Any further unilateral intervention by Russia into Ukrainian territory, including one under the guise of providing humanitarian aid, would be viewed as an invasion of Ukraine.”

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger

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