President Sauli Niinistö: The Buk Missile Test Was Supposed to Remain As a Secret

President Sauli Niinistö informing the media at the Presidential Palace on September 30, 2016 about the secret Buk missile test Finland conducted in 2015 to help the Dutch authorities to solve the downing of the Malaysian Airlines MH17 plane in July 2014. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

President Sauli Niinistö informing the media at the Presidential Palace on September 30, 2016 about the secret Buk missile test Finland conducted in 2015 to help the Dutch authorities to solve the downing of the Malaysian Airlines MH17 plane in July 2014. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The Netherlands criticizes Finland for withholding information from the Dutch authorities in relation to a missile test it conducted by a request of the Dutch authorities.

Sounds complicated? It isn’t.

In 2015, Finland, by the request of the Netherlands, conducted a missile test to help the Dutch authorities to solve the downing of the Malaysian Airlines MH17 plane in July 2014, which killed all 298 people, among them 80 children and 15 crew members.

The plane was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was hit by a Russian-made Buk missile over eastern Ukraine. According to an international team of criminal investigators, evidence shows that the Buk missile had been brought in from Russian territory and was fired from an area controlled by pro-Russian fighters.

The Finnish military had Buk missiles in its arsenal, which it had bought from Russia and, naturally, had made a strict business agreement of not releasing details of the missiles to a third party.

However, in order to solve one of the most horrifying war crimes in Europe in years, Finland decided to help the Netherlands and as agreed with the Dutch authorities, conducted a missile test in secret.  Fragments of the Buk missile were sent to the Netherlands.

“The decision of giving legal aid was made in a very hurried schedule. We trusted the Dutch authorities’ assurance that the matter will remain a secret,” President Niinistö said at the press conference at the Presidential Palace late on Friday afternoon.

Foreign Minister Timo Soini joined the press conference with President Niinistö. Picture Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Foreign Minister Timo Soini joined the press conference with President Niinistö. Picture Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

According to Niinistö, only a few people from the government knew about the test, including the former Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja and then-Minister of Defense Carl Haglund. The parliament was not informed at all.

The matter was not discussed with Russia either.

“We didn’t discuss the request for legal aid. The request was brought to Russia’s attention but it was not discussed,” Niinistö said.

The media fuss started after Gerrit Thiry, the team leader of the Dutch national criminal investigation service, said to Helsingin Sanomat on Friday, that Finland has refused to share information about the missile test to an international criminal investigation group. After that, President Niinistö decided to hold a press conference with a hurried schedule.

According to Niinistö, Finland has sent material of the test to the Netherlands during several times. He added that people will be sent to the Netherlands in the near future to solve what exactly it is that the Dutch authorities still want to know.