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March 2, 2021
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MH17 crash: Dutch experts say numerous objects hit plane

Dutch experts say Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 broke up in mid-air after being hit by “objects” that “pierced the plane at high velocity” in July. The new report also said there was “no evidence of technical or human error”. Correspondents quoted by BBC say this matches claims that MH17 was hit by missile shrapnel.
Investigators relied on cockpit data, air traffic control and images, as the crash site in eastern Ukraine remains too dangerous to access amid fighting between government troops and rebels.
They said the plane “broke up in the air probably as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-velocity objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside.” The cockpit voice recorder revealed no signs of any technical faults or an emergency situation, the experts said.
The investigators have not visited the crash site because of fighting in the area but they said photographic evidence of the wreckage suggests the plane split into pieces during “an in-flight break up”.
Maintenance history showed the aircraft was airworthy and had no known technical problems when it took off from Amsterdam, the report added. Experts said it was manned by “a qualified and experienced crew” and that engines were running normally at 293 knots at 33,000ft (cruise altitude). Radio communications between the pilot and Ukrainian air traffic control confirm that no emergency call was made.
Four Ukrainian servicemen ‘killed since start of ceasefire’
Meanwhile, four Ukrainian servicemen have been killed and 29 injured since the start of the ceasefire on Friday, according to a defence ministry source quoted by Russia’s Interfax news agency. The ceasefire has largely held across eastern Ukraine, but some areas, especially in the industrial area of Donetsk and near the port city of Mariupol, have seen sporadic shelling and gunfire.
Yesterday, Russian FM Sergei Lavrov expressed hope that within the next few days the ceasefire in Ukraine will be consolidated. “In speaking of the assessments of how the ceasefire is being observed, we naturally rely on the opinions of the OSCE observers.  (…) We hope that in the next few days this regime will be consolidated,” Lavrov said during a joint press conference with Malian Foreign Minister Tieman Coulibaly, as quoted by Ria Novosti.  Moscow also expects that negotiations will begin soon regarding the status of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukrain, as Lavrov said.
EU’s new sanctions on Russia to come into force “in the next days”
A new package of sanctions against Russia has been adopted by the EU. Previous reports said the “further restrictive measures” were aimed at targeting three major oil companies, as well as the defense sector, Russia Today informs. According to a Monday statement by the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, the new package was adopted through written procedure, “deepening the targeted measures of 31 July.” The final EU decision did not specify the date when they will be applied, only saying it “will take place in the next few days,” leaving time “for an assessment of the implementation of the cease-fire agreement [in Ukraine].”

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