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In this Tuesday, March 3, 2105 file photo, journalists take images of parts of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 displayed in a hangar at Gilze-Rijen airbase, Netherlands. (Photo: AP/Peter Dejong, File)

A semi-retired Russian three-star general oversaw the cross-border movements of a rocket launcher used to bring down a passenger jet in 2014 over eastern Ukraine, killing all aboard, an investigation by a team of reporting outlets has found.

The reporting team, made up of McClatchy and investigative websites Bellingcat (based in London) and The Insider (based in Moscow), identifies the general as Nikolai Fedorovich Tkachev.

His identification is potentially a breakthrough in a case that has frustrated Dutch and other investigators who have struggled for years to identify voices on a key phone intercept. They may now be closer to decoding the chain of command that brought down the unsuspecting Malaysia Air Flight 17 traveling above 30,000 feet.

In the intercept, a commander is heard giving orders and talking with junior officers; they appear to be discussing equipment associated with a missile launcher and used to move it. The investigators, who had earlier asked for help in identifying perpetrators, were reviewing the new information about Tkachev and had no immediate comment on the findings.

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