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Russia submits rival MH17 resolution draft

July 21, 2015

In a UN resolution proposal, Russia has called for "perpetrators" in the likely downing of MH17 over Ukraine to be brought to justice. The draft ignores the requests for an international tribunal.

USA UN Sicherheitsrat Sitzung zu Ukraine in New York Witali Tschurkin
Image: Reuters

The document, introduced to the UN on Monday, suggested a special UN representative for last year's incident, when 298 people died aboard the Malaysia Airlines flight.

Russia also urged a "full, thorough, transparent and independent international investigation," to be "finalized" at the earliest possible time.

However, the UN resolution draft makes no mention of the international tribunal, suggested by Malaysia in a separate draft earlier this month.

Experts from Malaysia are investigating the crash of flight MH17, alongside their colleagues from Ukraine, the Netherlands, Australia and Belgium. The investigation so far points to evidence of a missile causing the civilian plane to fall from the sky while flying over Ukraine battlefields on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

The five countries taking part in the probe have called for a special UN tribunal, in order to "provide the highest degree of legitimacy" for the upcoming proceedings.

The incident further aggravated a stand-off between Russia and the West, with Kyiv and the pro-Russian rebels still trading accusations over the tragedy.

Kremlin vs. the West

On Monday, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, restated Moscow's opposition to establishing the UN court.

"We believe it is not in the UN charter. The UN Security Council is not supposed to deal with issues like this," Churkin said.

The Russian draft insists on "just and equal access" to the materials of the investigation "by all interested states," citing transparency concerns.

The UN Security Council discussed the rival drafts Monday, with the tribunal being the key hurdle, New Zealand Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen said.

"There was strong support in the room for the establishment of a tribunal. Russia of course has a different perspective on this," he told reporters.

Ultimately, Moscow can use its veto power to stop the Malaysian initiative. However, Russia could also face opposition from other veto powers, including the US and the UK.

Malaysia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Australia and Belgium issued a joint statement Monday, claiming it was time for the tribunal to be formed.

"It is important for the Security Council to take clear and decisive action against those responsible for the downing of MH17 to send a clear message to the growing number of non-State actors with the ability to target civilian aircraft that such attacks will not be tolerated," the statement said.

dj/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters)