- The Australian
- July 30, 2015
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has blasted Russia for using its veto power to block a United Nations proposal to establish an international criminal tribunal into the MH17 disaster.
Speaking at the UN Security Council in New York on Thursday (AEST), Ms Bishop said Russia’s use of its veto power was “an affront to the memory of the 298 victims of MH17 and their families and friends”.
Ms Bishop said “the anticipated excuses and obfuscation by the Russian Federation should be treated with the utmost disdain”.
The resolution to establish a criminal tribunal was supported by 11 countries with Russia – as one of five permanent members with veto power – the only nation to vote against the proposal.
Angola, China and Venezuela abstained from the vote.
The Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17 last year, an hour into its flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 passengers and crew, including 39 Australian citizens and residents, were killed.
Russia has denied any involvement in the shooting down of the airliner, but a Dutch-led investigation due to report in October is believed to support claims Russian-backed separatists were responsible.
Ms Bishop, in a speech shortly after the vote, said it was “inconceivable the Security Council would now walk away from holding to account those who brought down a commercial aeroplane”. “The veto only compounds the atrocity,” she said.
“Only one hand was raised in opposition, but a veto should never be allowed to deny justice.” Ms Bishop said “the anticipated excuses and obfuscation by the Russian Federation should be treated with the utmost disdain”. “The exercise of the veto today is an affront to the memory of the 298 victims of MH17 and their families and friends,” Ms Bishop said.
Bill Shorten joined Ms Bishop in condemning Russia’s use of its veto.
“Those responsible for downing flight MH17 must be brought to account. Labor supports the government’s efforts to see that justice is done,” the Opposition Leader said.
“Russia’s actions show no respect for families of the 298 innocent people killed – enduring unimaginable grief and waiting too long for answers.”
Moscow’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, insisted Russia was “ready to co-operate in the conduct of a full, independent and objective investigation … to identify those guilty and to punish them”.
Mr Churkin, however, questioned the motives behind the resolution, adding that Russia was a victim of “propaganda in the media”.
“What are the grounds to be assured of the impartiality of such an investigation?” he said in a speech to the Council after the vote.
“The position which we have adopted today has nothing in common with promoting impunity.” The United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said that by vetoing the resolution, Russia had attempted to deny justice to the victims and their families.
“Russia has callously disregarded the public outcry in the grieving nations, the appeals of the families affected,” Ms Power said.
“It is tragic that Russia has used the privilege entrusted to it in order to advance international peace and security … to frustrate international peace and security.
“But let us be clear: Today’s veto cannot and will not deny the victims and their families justice.”
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has vowed to push for justice despite Russia’s veto of a UN resolution that would have set up a tribunal to try those responsible for shooting down passenger flight MH17 over the former Soviet state. “The results of the vote on the MH17 tribunal speak for themselves. But Ukraine will not stop there. Our goal is to punish the guilty,” presidential spokesman Svyatoslav Tsegolko quoted the Ukrainian leader as saying minutes after the vote.
The Security Council session began with a moment’s silence in honour of those killed in the July 2014 disaster.
Agencies, Jared Owens