President Trump elicited a barrage of criticism in Washington after his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday — for expressing doubt about Russian interference in the 2016 election and for being soft on Putin. But one of the most scathing condemnations came from a grieving father thousands of miles away in Perth, Australia.
Four years ago, on July 17, 2014, Anthony Maslin and Rin Norris lost all three of their children, who were among the 298 passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The flight was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing Norris's father, the three Maslin children — 12-year-old Mo, 10-year-old Evie and 8-year-old Otis — and all the other passengers. An investigation led by the Netherlands has since found evidence that points toward Russia having “direct involvement” in the plane's downing.
In an impassioned Facebook post published Tuesday, Maslin condemned Trump's “arse-kissing” of Putin, who has repeatedly denied the Kremlin was in any way responsible for shooting down the airliner. “It's not anger that I feel towards the two of you,” Maslin wrote in the post, which was addressed to Trump. “It’s something much, much worse. It's pity. You have no empathy for your fellow man, and you clearly have no idea what love is. So you have nothing.”
Maslin also wrote that it is an “irrefutable fact” that the flight, commonly called MH17, was hit by a Russian missile and that Putin was behind its downing.
Part of what Maslin wrote has been formally confirmed by the Dutch-led international team appointed to investigate the crash. In May, the investigators released an interim report stating that the surface-to-air missile that took down the plane was fired by a launcher belonging to Russia’s 53rd Antiaircraft Missile Brigade, Reuters reported.
Based on these findings, the governments of Australia and the Netherlands, both of which had citizens aboard the plane, said they hold Russia legally responsible for the crash. Just one day before Trump's meeting with Putin, the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven industrialized nations released a joint statement calling on Russia to “account for its role in this incident.”
The Kremlin has continued to deny any responsibility. When asked by reporters in May whether MH17 was shot down by Russian missiles, Putin said, “No, of course not.” He later shifted his position slightly, telling the Austrian network ORF that even if Russian weapons were used, Russian forces were not responsible, Newsweek reported.
“The two sides have all sorts of systems — both firearms, aviation and antiaircraft systems. All of them were made in Russia,” Putin said.
In the years since 2014, news outlets close to the Russian government have strongly suggested that a former Ukrainian military pilot, Vladyslav Voloshyn, shot down the plane. Voloshyn, who fought in the war in eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists, vehemently denied these allegations. Four months ago, he died in an apparent suicide, the BBC reported.