Russia blocks UN inquiry into downing of Malaysia Air MH17

Russia rejected a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) plan on Wednesday which would have created a panel to prosecute those found responsible for destroying Malaysia Air MH17.

Of the 15-member Security Council, Australia, Ukraine, Belgium, Malaysia, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Nigeria, Chad, Chile voted in favor of advancing the measure; China, Angola and Venezuela abstained from voting; and Russia vetoed the proposal.

For a Security Council measure to advance, it must survive without a veto from any of the five permanent UNSC members and requires nine additional votes in favor of the resolution.

When exercising the veto, Russian ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, questioned the impartiality of such a proposed jury to investigate the aircraft’s downing.

This in our view indicates the fact that political purposes were more important for them than practical objectives. This of course is regrettable,” Churkin said. “Russia stands ready to cooperate in the conduct of a full, independent and objective investigation of the reasons and circumstances of the crash.”

Churkin further stated:

“(Russia) wouldn’t support the tribunal due to the fact the UNSC resolution 2166 [of 2014] didn’t qualify the Boeing tragedy as a threat to international peace and security. It is difficult to explain how the event, which wasn’t considered a threat to international peace and security a year ago, now suddenly becomes one.”

Russia had proposed a similar resolution which would have created an investigation, but stopped short of impaneling nations as a basis for prosecuting.  Russia urged caution and has demanded the UNSC await the expected conclusions of the Dutch Safety Board due in October and a separate inquiry headed by Malaysia, Ukraine, Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Fellow members of the UNSC were not swayed by Russian appeals and responded with fury.

No veto will stand in the way of this heinous crime being investigated and prosecuted,” said Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the UN.

Similarly annoyed, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, whose nation lost 39 nationals in the disaster.

Those responsible may believe that they can now hide behind the Russian Federation’s veto. They will not be allowed to evade justice,” she said.

Malaysian transport minister, Liow Tiong Lai added that “(Russia’s veto) sends a dangerous message of impunity to the perpetrator of this heinous crime.”

Whether the downing of MH17 was a colossal blunder or a deliberate target, Russia’s veto will not endear them to their critics in the UN.  Russia, however, does make a point worth consideration:  It is crucial to await the outcome of two separate appraisals investigating the loss of MH17.

While no one appears to be taking the loss of life for granted, the UN should neither act hastily nor should it be a forum to harbor grievances.

Let’s wait for the Dutch Safety Board’s conclusions.

[rtnews] [] [reuters]