Russia Vetoes UN Tribunal Into Downing of MH17

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Russia vetoed a UN Security Council draft resolution to set up an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of downing Malaysia Airlines MH17 over Ukraine a year ago.

Wednesday’s vote followed a last-minute effort to lobby Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has said setting up a tribunal would not make sense while the investigation continued.

RT report: Eleven UN Security Council (UNSC) members have voted in support of the Malaysia-proposed draft resolution, with Angola, Venezuela and China abstaining.

This was enough for the resolution to pass, but Russia applied its veto right a permanent UNSC member.

The vote was preceded by Security Council Chairman and New Zealand foreign minister Murray McCully announcing a minute of silence for the MH17 tragedy victims.

Despite the veto, Moscow is ready to assist the investigation into the reasons for the Malaysian Boeing 777 crash, Russian UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said.

Before the Wednesday’s vote, Moscow openly said it would do everything in its power to make sure the Malaysia-proposed document didn’t pass.

Russia warned that the tribunal would lead to even more confrontation in the international arena as it is intended to assign blame to those who Washington wishes to finger as responsible for the crash.

The Russian side noted that the UN Security Council has never organized a tribunal over an air crash before and that, although the MH17 downing was a criminal offense, it was not a threat to global security.

Dutch investigators looking into the MH17 tragedy said that the plane was shot down while flying over the conflict zone near Donetsk.

However, they have not yet established responsibility for the tragedy, as pro-Kiev forces were engaged in combat with rebels from the self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine at the time.
The Ukrainian authorities and the West blame the Donetsk militias for downing the plane, saying that they used a Buk surface-to-air missile allegedly provided by Russia.

The rebels deny these accusations, and Moscow has repeatedly warning against putting blame on anyone before the investigation into the crash has been completed.

The Dutch Safety Board that has been heading an international investigation into the cause of the crash is due to release its official report in October, while the criminal investigation is expected to continue until the end of this year.

A draft resolution submitted by Malaysia proposed the establishment of a tribunal to investigate the incident, with judges and the prosecutor to be appointed by the UN Secretary General.

The document also called on member states to adhere to the 2014 Resolution 2166 and provide maximum assistance to the international investigation into the incident.
The draft was supported by several nations in the UNSC, including the Netherlands and Ukraine.

Niamh Harris
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