Families of victims and their countries' embassies are marking the fifth anniversary of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, amid mounting evidence of Russia's involvement in shooting the passenger plane out of the sky.
The airliner flying between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur was shot down by a Buk missile on July 17, 2014, over territory in eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists, killing all 298 people on board, including 80 children.
In the Netherlands, which lost 193 citizens, commemorations began on July 16, when family members of 15 of the victims assembled in the town of Hilversum for a vigil.
It was led by a priest who grows sunflowers from seeds brought from eastern Ukraine where the plane was shot down.
A separate MH17 conference took place in the Netherlands on July 16, as well as a roundtable in Washington, D.C.
Speaking in Washington, George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state at the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, said that 'Russia set the stage for the shoot-down of MH17 by financing, organizing, and leading proxies in eastern Ukraine.'
He also said that 'Russia continues to deny the presence of its forces and materiel' in non-government-controlled parts of Ukraine.
Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the MH17 tragedy.
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