Australia is set to use its temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council to push for an international investigation into the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had signalled that Australia will put a “tough” resolution to the Security Council when it sits this week, which will also demand immediate and complete access to the site.
The downing of the commercial jet has drawn a strong reaction from Australia. Twenty-eight Australians were on board the plane, the highest number of nationals from any country after the Netherlands and Malaysia.
Bishop arrived in the United States this week to push for a strong response. “They have been murdered and the Australian government will not rest until we are able to bring the bodies home to the Australian families who are waiting for them, and will not rest until an independent investigation is established that is impartial and thorough and competent and able to determine who is responsible for this and they are brought to justice,” she said.
While Australia’s ability to exert influence over Russia and the situation in Ukraine is minimal, the government has been outspoken in its criticism of the Russians, adding its voice to the growing international condemnation. Prime Mininister Tony Abbott also suggested over the weekend that Russia may be be blocked from attending the G20 Summit, which Australia is hosting later this year. He said: “We are a self-respecting country and obviously we want to ensure that visitors to this country have good will to this country, visitors to this country are people who have done the right thing by this country and let’s hope that is what we will find in the weeks and months ahead.” Even before the downing of MH17, Russia had been suspended from the G8.
The United States has said that its intelligence reports confirm that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile fired from within territory in eastern Ukraine that is controlled by pro-Russian separatists. On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry laid out evidence strongly suggesting Russian involvement, amid mounting international pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke to Putin by telephone on Sunday night and told local radio that Putin had said “said all the right things.”
“Now he has to be as good as his word, and I will be speaking regularly to the Russian President to do my best to hold him to his word.” Abbott added.