UNSC mulls resolution on access to MH17 crash site

Written by Reuters | United Nations | Updated: Jul 21 2014, 05:46am hrs
The UN Security Council is considering a draft resolution to condemn the shooting down of a Malaysian passenger plane in Ukraine, demand armed groups allow access to the crash site, and call on states in the region to cooperate with an international investigation.

Australia - which lost 28 citizens - circulated a draft text, seen by Reuters, to the 15-member Security Council late on Saturday and diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it could be put to a vote as early as Monday.

The draft resolution

demands that those responsible for this incident be held to account and that all states cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability.

It condemns in the strongest terms the shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 ... resulting in the tragic loss of 298 lives and demands that all states and other actors in the region refrain from acts of violence directed against civilian aircraft.

The United States and other powers have said the plane was likely brought down on Thursday by a surface-to-air missile fired from rebel territory.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said on Friday that Washington could not rule out Russian help in firing the missile.

Russian President Vlad-imir Putin urged the pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine to cooperate and insisted that an international investigation must not leap to conclusions. Moscow denies involvement and has pointed a finger at Kievs military. Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Moscow of fueling a pro-Russian uprising that threatens to break up the former Soviet republic of 46 million people. Russia denies orchestrating the unrest and says Ukraine's attempts to end it by military force are making the situation worse.

The draft UN resolution calls on all states and actors in the region to cooperate fully in relation to the international investigation of the incident, including with respect to immediate access to the crash site.

It demands that the armed groups in control of the crash site and the surrounding area refrain from any actions that may compromise the integrity of the crash site and immediately provide safe, secure, full and unfettered access to the site and surrounding area.

International monitors the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said on Saturday they had been allowed to see more of the crash site, though gunmen still stopped them approaching some of the wreckage.

Russias UN mission

declined to comment on the draft Security Council

resolution.

The Security Council issued an statement on Friday calling for a full, thorough and independent international investigation, access to the site and appropriate accountability. Britain drafted the short text and hoped the council could issue it on Thursday but Russia requested more time to review it.

The Australian-drafted resolution supports efforts to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines.

It also insists that the bodies of the victims are treated in a dignified, respectful and professional manner.

Ukraine on Sunday accused separatist rebels of hiding evidence that a Russian missile was used to shoot down a Malaysian airliner, while Britain said Moscow faced pariah status and the threat of further economic sanctions.

At the biggest crash site, where emergency workers had bagged dozens of bodies on Saturday, all had been taken away on Sunday morning. Empty, bloodstained military stretchers that had been used to carry them lay by the road.

With Western anger rising at the apparently disrespectful treatment of the bodies by pro-Russian rebels controlling the crash site, nearly 200 corpses had been put on a refrigerated train at Torez, 15 km away.

Its corpses. They brought the bodies overnight, a duty officer at the town's station told Reuters. He said the wagons were due to be transported east "in the direction of Ilovaisk, but a senior rebel official, Sergei Kavtaradze, said they would not move until the issue of what to do with them was resolved.

Moscow denies involvement in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on Thursday and has blamed the Ukrainian military. But Washington and its allies have pointed the finger at pro-Russian separatists who have Moscows backing.

Britain said Russia could find itself isolated if it did not use its influence over the rebels to ensure safe access to the crash site and cooperate with international investigators.

Russia risks becoming a pariah state if it does not behave properly, British foreign secretary Philip Hammond said on Sky television.

The downing of the airliner with the loss of nearly 300 lives has sharply escalated the crisis in Ukraine, and may mark a pivotal moment in international efforts to resolve a situation in which separatists in the Russian-speaking east have been fighting government forces since protesters in Kiev forced out a pro-Russian president and Russia annexed Crimea.

Britain said it would seek to persuade other European nations at a European Union meeting on Tuesday to ratchet up economic sanctions on Russia. Some European nations, with an eye to their trade links with Russia, have been less enthusiastic about confronting Moscow over Ukraine.

The Netherlands, whose citizens made up two-thirds of the 298 on the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, said it was furious about the manhandling of corpses strewn over open country and asked Ukraine for help to bring our people home.

US President Barack Obama said the disaster showed it was time to end the Ukraine conflict and Germany called it Moscows last chance to cooperate.

A spokesman for Ukraines Security Council said rebels were doing all they could to hide evidence that a Russian missile downed the airliner.

The terrorists are doing everything to hide the evidence of the involvement of Russian missiles in the shooting down of that airliner, Andriy Lysenko told a news conference in Kiev.

He said the rebels had taken debris and bodies from the crash site in trucks, tampering with a scene that investigators need to be secure to have a chance of determining what, and who, caused the plane to plunge into the steppe.