UN Security Council, U.S. Call For Independent Probe On Downed Plane
July 18, 2014
The UN Security Council has unanimously called for a 'full, thorough, and independent international investigation' into the downing of a Malaysian airliner with 298 people on board over eastern Ukraine.
Meeting in New York on July 18, the council also urged all parties to grant investigators access to the site.
In a statement agreed by consensus, the council equally called for 'appropriate accountability.'
At the Security Council meeting, U.S. envoy to the UN Samantha Power said the missile fired at the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 17 was likely shot from the separatist-held area in east Ukraine.
Power also raised the possibility that Russian personnel helped down the plane.
'Because of the technical complexity of the SA-11,' Power said, 'it is unlikely that the separatists could have effectively operate the system without assistance from knowledgeable personnel, thus we cannot rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel in operating the systems.'
In a televised address shortly after the Security Council vote, U.S. President Barack Obama said evidence indicated the plane was shot down by surface-to-air missile from area controlled by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine and separatists have received a steady flow of arms from Russia, including antiaircraft weapons.
Obama stressed the need for a credible international investigation, demanding that Ukraine, Russia, and pro-Russian separatists adhere to an immediate cease-fire and not interfere with such a probe.
He said the 'eyes of the world are on eastern Ukraine,' adding, 'We're going to make sure that truth gets out.'
Obama accused Moscow time and time again of refusing to take concrete steps necessary to deescalate the Ukraine crisis and continuing to violate Ukrainian sovereignty and to support violent separatists.
The Ukrainian military and the separatists are blaming each other for shooting down the plane with a missile on July 17 in eastern Donetsk region.
Pro-Russian separatists are allowing international investigators access to the site of the crash, which is in an area they control.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said about 30 observers and experts arrived by helicopter at the site on July 18.
An OSCE spokesman also said the 'contact group' of diplomats from the OSCE, Russia, and Ukraine had met and spoken with separatist leaders by video link.
The separatists earlier claimed the two 'black boxes' recording flight data had been found, but later denied those reports.
U.S. and Ukrainian officials have suggested the plane was brought down with a Buk ground-to-air missile.
Both Ukrainian and Russian forces have SA-17 systems -- known as Buk launchers.
Authorities in Kyiv say they intercepted and recorded two telephone calls in which pro-Russian separatists were bragging about shooting down a plane in the area on July 17 before it became apparent that a civilian passenger plane had crashed there.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called for an immediate cease-fire and direct talks between Kyiv and the separatists in the wake of the disaster and for an impartial investigation.
But Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on July 18 suggested that Moscow was trying to impede an impartial investigation.
Abbott said it appeared the 28 Australians on the flight were killed by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine who used Russian-supplied heavy weaponry.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country lost at least 189 people in the tragedy, according to the latest figures, said his government was resolute.
'The message of the cabinet is that we want to research what has happened, we want to determine who was behind this, and I would like to quote my Australian counterpart [Tony Abbott]: 'If there were terrorists involved, if there were intentions, if somebody did this on purpose, then we want everything to be done in order to get those involved in court and for them to be punished accordingly.' But we first have to make sure that investigations can take place as objectively and as honestly as possible.'
Passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 included people from about a dozen nations. The crew members were all Malaysian.
With reporting by Reuters, AFP, dpa, and Interfax
Copyright (c) 2014. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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