MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated that Moscow will veto a U.N. Security Council resolution to set up an international criminal court to prosecute those responsible for shooting down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine a year ago.
Putin said Wednesday in a phone chat with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte that Russia still opposes the idea that the Netherlands and Ukraine advocate.
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte’s office said he telephoned Mr Putin ahead of the vote in New York to seek his backing for setting up an international tribunal to try the as-yet unidentified suspects behind the downing of the Malaysia Airlines jet that killed 298 people in July of last year.
“In the frank and detailed conversation, Rutte called urgently on the Russian president to make a trial possible for those behind MH17 with a UN tribunal,” said a statement from Mr Rutte’s office.
On Wednesday, Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop returned to New York to lobby for the creation of the tribunal.
She said “They (the UN Security Council) recognize that we are seeking justice for the families of those who were killed aboard Malaysia Airlines MH17 over a year ago.”
“We’re determined to hold those responsible to account and we want to establish an independent criminal tribunal backed by the UN Security Council so that it does have international support.”
“This [veto] would not serve Russia’s national interest, in seeking to deny the families of those aboard MH17 justice.”
Malaysia, the Netherlands, Australia, Ukraine and Belgium have called for such a tribunal and Malaysia has circulated a draft resolution to that effect with a vote set for Wednesday around 8.00pm BST.
The resolution would require all countries to cooperate with the special tribunal or face sanctions.
Ukraine and the West suspect that the plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile fired by Russia-backed separatist rebels or Russian soldiers. Russia denies that. Nearly 200 of the 298 killed were Dutch.
The Kremlin quoted Putin as saying a tribunal would be “inexpedient” because Russia still has “a lot of questions” about the investigation to which it had little access.
Russia has drafted an alternative resolution that does not include a tribunal but asks for a full international investigation.