Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade the honorary title "Guards" for "mass heroism and courage, steadfastness and courage shown by the personnel of the brigade in combat operations to defend the Fatherland." The corresponding decree was published on the official Internet portal of legal information.
In 2014, the 53rd brigade was based in Kursk. She owned the Buk that shot down the Malaysian Boeing. The Bellingcat investigation showed that it was the military personnel of the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade that delivered the Buk to the crash zone. Later, the investigation into the case of the Malaysian Boeing confirmed this information. The court in The Hague, which considered the case, wanted to interrogate the commander of the brigade, Sergei Muchkaev, as a witness, but Russia rejected this request from the Netherlands.
In 2016, Bellingcat published the results of its two-year investigation into the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade in the form of a 118-page report MH17 – Potential Suspects and Witnesses from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade), both in Russian and in English . The report provided comprehensive information on the structure, weapons, personnel and history of this military unit, as well as data on its place in the hierarchy of the Russian Armed Forces.
Boeing-777 of Malaysia Airlines, operating flight MH17 Amsterdam (Netherlands) - Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), was shot down in the sky over the Donetsk region on July 17, 2014. On board were 298 people, all of them died. A joint investigation by Bellingcat and The Insider identified the key suspects in this case, with the call signs "Orion" and "Dolphin". The “Dolphin” turned out to be Colonel General Nikolai Fedorovich Tkachev, chief inspector of the Central Military District of Russia. And "Orion" is the current GRU General Oleg Vladimirovich Ivannikov, also known as the former Minister of Defense of South Ossetia Andrei Laptev. He led the actions of Russian troops on the territory of Ukraine and, among other things, commanded the Wagner PMC.
In November 2022, the court sentenced three defendants in the case to life imprisonment in absentia. Russians Igor Girkin (Strelkov) and Sergey Dubinsky, as well as Leonid Kharchenko, were found guilty of murder and actions that led to the plane crash.