President Vladimir Putin faced calls to admit what he knows about the MH17, after Dutch prosecutors revealed the missile that shot down the airliner was transported into east Ukraine from Russia and fired from separatist-controlled territory.
In findings that raise serious questions about the culpability of the Russian state and Putin - who is the commander in chief of the Russian armed forces - detectives also said the Buk SA-11 launch vehicle returned across the border a day later.
"MH17 was shot down by a 9M38 missile launched by a Buk, brought in from the territory of the Russian Federation, and that after launch was subsequently returned to the Russian Federation," Wilbert Paulissen, head of the Dutch police Central Crime Investigation department, said.
Russia, which has consistently denied any involvement in the tragedy, dismissed the findings as "biased and politically motivated".
The Malaysian plane was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpa when it was shot down on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people aboard. At the time, Ukrainian Government forces were involved in heavy fighting with pro-Russian separatists who are known to have received significant Russian military support.
A Dutch-led team of detectives from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine have spent more than two years compiling evidence for a potential criminal prosecution. In preliminary results, they said audio intercepts, witness statements, and forensic evidence show the missile arrived from Russia after separatists requested support against Ukrainian airstrikes.
Dutchman Robby Oehlers, 46, who lost his niece Daisy and her boyfriend Bryce Fredriksz, said: "My message to Putin is I would ask him in a friendly way to give [up] the people if he knows who they are."
The governments of countries that lost citizens in the crash called on Russia to come clean. "Today's initial criminal report offers clear evidence that the missile was Russian-made, and launched from within territory held by Russian-backed separatist groups," said Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary.
A Kremlin spokesman said Russian data showed no evidence of a rocket being launched from the region.