A RUSSIAN warlord wanted on mass murder charges over the downing of MH17 has made himself front line commander in the Ukraine war.
Igor Girkin, 51, is a senior intelligence and army officer who helped facilitate Putin’s land grab in Ukraine and is the former defense minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
The doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile over Ukraine’s Donbass region in July 2014, killing 298 people, including 10 Britons and 80 children.
The Boeing 777 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was blown up from the sky.
In June 2019, four suspects were charged in MH17-related mass murder – including Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko.
Girkin – also known as Strelkov – previously served as the supreme commander of the Donetsk militia in 2014, although he has recently criticized Putin’s conduct of the war.
But now the ex-FSB colonel and hardliner has been appointed front commander in a change of course, it is said.
He was pictured saying goodbye to his wife in military attire.
Girkin had gone silent on his Telegram channel, which has been used for months to call for a far tougher and more brutal approach to the war by the Russian armed forces.
His wife Miroslava Reginskaya, 29, posted: “He’s fine. He’ll be in touch with you soon.”
Military reporter Yuri Kotenok said: “Strelkov’s silence since October 10 is explained by the fact that after eight years he was allowed to travel to the war zone….
“He went into one of the volunteer battalions as chief of staff or deputy commander to fight.”
Girkin warned last month that further military defeats could topple Vladimir Putin, accusing the Kremlin leader and his defense minister of incompetence.
“All it takes is a burst of inflation or a few more military defeats to finish him off,” he wrote of the Russian president.
The warlord called Putin “unaware” of Russia’s failures at the front and suggested that “execution by firing squad” was too good a punishment for Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Girkin had long called for full mobilization while targeting the military hierarchy in Russia.
He was known for his cruelty in Donetsk and boasted about shooting prisoners and looters.
His new role as commander – possibly in a private army supporting Putin – seems a sign that hardliners are now taking full responsibility for Putin’s war.
Dubinsky is also a former Russian intelligence officer, while Pulatov – nicknamed Viper – is a former lieutenant colonel in the Russian army.
Kharchenko was the commander of a Ukrainian separatist battalion.
“Although they didn’t push the button, we suspect they worked closely to get the (rocket launcher) to where it was with the aim of shooting down an airplane,” Attorney General Fred Westerbeke said at the time.
The judgment in absentia from the District Court of The Hague is expected on November 17 at 1:30 p.m.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6453877/mh17-mass-murder-suspect-igor-girkin-fights-ukraine/ Warlord Putin wanted for mass murder for downing MH17 made frontline commander in Ukraine war