Read: Department of State spokesperson addresses MH17 during daily press briefing

Heather Nauert
Department Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 18, 2018


QUESTION: … Does the U.S. Government still stand by its previous statements and positions that – in support of the Dutch investigation team that held that Russia was responsible for downing it?

MS NAUERT: We certainly do. The United States Government has long said that Russia is without a doubt responsible for shooting down MH17. As recently as May, we put out two statements, and I’d like to read a bit from those statements. The first one came out on May the 24th. It said, “The United States has complete confidence in the findings of the joint investigation team as presented today by the Dutch public prosecutor. The missile launcher used to shoot down Malaysia Airline Flight MH17 originated from the 53rd anti-aircraft brigade of the Russian Federation stationed in Kursk.” It goes on to say, “MH17 was shot down by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile fired from the territory in eastern Ukraine controlled by Russia and Russian-led forces.” That was May 24th.

May 25th we put out another statement that said, “We strongly support decisions by the Netherlands and Australia to call Russia to account for its role in the July 2014 downing of the Malaysia flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine and the horrific deaths of 298 civilians. It’s time for Russia to acknowledge its role in shooting down the plane and cease its callous disinformation campaign.”

We stand by those statements.

QUESTION: So why no statement yesterday on the anniversary?

MS NAUERT: We joined – and perhaps some of you haven’t seen it, but we joined our G7 colleagues and put out a foreign ministers statement – I believe it was Monday of this week. And I can read for you a bit of that statement. It says, among other things, “We, the G7 foreign ministers” – Canada, France, Germany, et cetera, along with the European Union – “are united in condemnation, in the strongest possible terms, of the downing of Malaysia Air Flight MH17, a civilian aircraft flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur July 17th, 2014.”

It goes on to say – I’m skipping down a few paragraphs – “In a rules-based international order, those responsible for unacceptable actions such as the firing or launching of a missile of Russian origin which intercepted and downed a civilian aircraft must be held accountable. To this end, we call on Russia to immediately engage with Australia and The Netherlands in good faith and to address all relevant questions regarding any potential breaches of international law. We once again express our deepest condolences to the family and the victims of that flight.”

QUESTION: Right. I —

MS NAUERT: Our position on Russian culpability for this has not changed. Our policy on this has not changed.

QUESTION: Okay. I’m aware of that statement and I’m aware of what you just said.


QUESTION: But why no statement from either you or the Secretary yesterday on the anniversary?

MS NAUERT: Matt, we have put out three statements in two and a half months and we think that that covered it. We preferred to go with the G7 statement and I hope the decision that the United States made this time to go with the G7 statement doesn’t cloud anyone’s judgment about our steadfast conviction that Russia stands responsible for the shoot-down of MH17 and we stand behind the Dutch investigation.

For the full transcript please click here.

For video of the daily press brief please click here.