UN vote demands site access
Updated: 2014-07-22 07:35
By Agencies in Canberra and Moscow (China Daily)
People surround a refrigerator wagon as monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and members of a forensic team inspect the remains of victims from the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, at a railway station in the eastern Ukrainian town of Torez on Monday. Maxim Zmeyev / Reuters
The UN Security Council was scheduled to vote on Monday on a resolution proposed by Australia demanding international access and a cease-fire around the eastern Ukraine crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
Diplomats and heads of state were pressuring Russia to approve the resolution.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said his country would view a Russian veto of the resolution "very badly", adding that "no reasonable person" could object to its wording.
"This is still an absolutely shambolic situation. It does look more like a garden clean-up than a forensic investigation," he told reporters. "Given the almost certain culpability of the Russian-backed rebels in the downing of the aircraft, having these people in control of the site is a little like leaving criminals in control of a crime scene."
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that the downing of the airliner must not be used for political ends, and he urged separatists to allow international experts to have access to the site.
"Everything must be done to guarantee the security of international experts at the site of the tragedy," Putin said in an unusual televised address as he stood alone next to a desk.
Putin, who looked drawn, reiterated his earlier words that the incident would not have happened if Ukrainian government forces had not ended a truce and resumed a military campaign against the armed militia in eastern Ukraine.
"However, nobody should-and no one has the right to-use this tragedy to achieve selfish political ends. Such events should not divide people but unite them," Putin said.
"There are already representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk working there, as well as representatives of the emergency ministries of Ukraine and others. But this is not enough," Putin said, according to Russia Today.
The United States has presented what it has called "powerful" evidence that trained rebels shot down the plane with a Russian surface-to-air missile. Other governments have stopped short of accusing Russia of actually causing the crash.
According to ITAR-Tass, Malaysia has demanded the immediate and unhampered access of specialists to the crash site. The report cited the Star newspaper quoting Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, who is currently on a visit in Ukraine's capital Kiev.
"The Ukrainian government has stated that it has been unable to establish a safe corridor to the crash site for the international team ... and it can't guarantee the safety of the international team in and around the crash site," Liow was quoted as saying. Kiev authorities reportedly told the Malaysian minister that militias were in control of the site. Liow added that only a group of specialists from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe have managed to get to the site so far.
United Nations diplomats met on Sunday until past midnight to work out key differences between Australia and Russia on the resolution's wording. They emerged cautiously optimistic that it would be approved, but Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin would not guarantee it.
"It was a worthwhile session, so let's see what the result is going to be tomorrow," Churkin told reporters.
The resolution calls for pro-Russia separatists to allow access to the site of the downed jet, which carried 298 people, including 37 Australian citizens and residents. It asks for the full cooperation of all countries in the region, including Russia.
Earlier Sunday, Churkin said Russia is concerned the draft "does not accurately reflect the need for an impartial, international investigation".