An intermediary between the Russian authorities and occupied Donbas' leaders who was frequently mentioned in the MH17 phone intercepts released last November has been identified as Russia's State Security Service colonel general Andrey Ivanovich Burlaka.
This became known from the latest report published by Bellingcat investigative outlet.
"This FSB general is the highest-ranking Russian official identified as a person of interest in the criminal investigation into the downing of MH17," Bellingcat's article reads.
The Joint Investigative Team (JIT) released the intercepted calls on November 14. In the calls, the intermediary was referred to as "Vladimir Ivanovich."
Back then, in an interview with Hromadske, Bellingcat lead researcher Aric Toler called Vladimir Ivanovich "the most important person who has not been publicly identified yet."
"He clearly is a go-between the Russian security services and Ministry of Defense... He is the big fish, I guess, that the JIT wants to identify and get a hold of," Toler said.
According to the published intercepts, "Vladimir Ivanovich" (or Andrey Burlaka as we now know him) supervised militant activities in the Donbas and authorized the flow of weapons into the region.
Bellingcat further details Burlaka's biography and role in the Ukrainian-Russian war.
"A review of Burlaka’s airplane travel in 2014 and 2015 shows that he frequently flew from Moscow to Rostov, to Crimea. and to Krasnodar — the three control centers for military operations against Ukraine," Bellingcat writes.
The investigative outlet also revealed that Burlaka flew from Moscow to Rostov (a Russian town near the Ukrainian border) on July 15, 2014 and went back on July 18. The MH17 flight was downed on July 17, 2014.
You can read the whole report here.