UN vote to demand access to Ukraine crash site

UN vote to demand access to Ukraine crash site

An urgent United Nations Security Council vote could take place as early as tonight on a resolution demanding international access to the Ukraine plane crash site.

Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop said she expected all 15 council members to fully support her country’s proposal.

The resolution calls for pro-Russia separatists to allow international access to the crash site of the downed Malaysia Airlines passenger jet carrying 298 people and asks for the full co-operation of all countries in the region, including Russia.

Russia has the power to veto the resolution as a permanent council member.

UN diplomats have tweeted that the council will vote this afternoon, New York time, on the proposal, co-sponsored by Australia, France and Lithuania.

“I would expect every country to give it their full support,” Ms Bishop said.

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott said Russian president Vladimir Putin “said all the right things” during their telephone conversation about ensuring an international investigation into last Thursday’s disaster.

“I’m now going to try to ensure that as far as Australia humanly can, we insist upon these things happening,” he told Sydney Radio 2GB.

Ms Bishop said she would hold talks with Dutch counterpart Frans Timmermans and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond about the resolution.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said Mr Timmermans was on his way to New York to speak to Security Council members “to further expand the international coalition pushing for quick recovery of the bodies and getting to the bottom of the terrible events on MH17”.

At least 37 people – citizens and residents of Australia – were on board the Boeing 777 when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine.

“Australia has a lot at stake here,” Ms Bishop said. “They have been murdered and the Australian government will not rest until we’re able to bring the bodies home to the Australian families who are waiting for them,” she said.

She said she had spoken to Australian families of victims who want their loved ones returned, adding: “We owe it to them.”

Australia was determined to secure an independent investigation that was “impartial and thorough and competent and able to determine who is responsible for this so they can be brought to justice”, she said.

But Russian UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow was concerned the draft “does not accurately reflect the need for an impartial, international investigation”.

He said Russia had proposed that the International Civil Aviation Organisation, a UN agency, take the lead.

Australia’s proposal welcomes ICAO’s decision “to send a team to assist” Ukrainian investigators.

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