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UNITED NATIONS, July 26 (Itar-Tass) - The United Nations has learned a lesson from the incident with a Russian helicopter shot down in South Sudan in December 2012 and is taking measures to ensure the safety of helicopter crews, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin told reporters on Thursday.
The United Nations has drawn necessary conclusions from that incident, in particular enhancing measures for ensuring the safety of helicopters and their crews, he said in reply to an Itar-Tass query.
According to him, the United Nations passed to the Russian side its report with the results of internal investigation of the incident. “We familiarized ourselves with it. Now difficult discussions continue with the Sudanese authorities to make them finally acknowledge their responsibility for the incident,” the permanent representative to the United Nations said.
He stressed that Russia demands punishment for the military who opened fire on the helicopter with U.N. identification marks, as well as for the staffers of the U.N. peacekeeping mission (UNMISS) in that country who had made the decision to send the helicopter to a dangerous zone. He said there are certain difficulties with the latter, as most of those who were responsible for dispatching the copter “don’t work with the mission any longer”.
The Mi-8 helicopter belonging to the Russian airline Nizhnevartovskavia, which was operating under contract with the U.N. Mission, was downed in December of last year in the State of Jonglei. A search and rescue team dispatched to the scene of the accident confirmed the death of the helicopter’s four Russian crewmembers.
The South Sudan authorities officially admitted that the helicopter had been shot down by mistake but have been dragging their feet on the investigation.
On July 11, the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a resolution in which it demanded from the country’s authorities to rule out the possibility of such incidents in the future and pointed out the need for bringing those guilty to book.
UNMISS was established in 2011 after South Sudan had proclaimed independence. Its objective is to consolidate peace and security, and help establish conditions for development in the Republic of South Sudan, with a view to strengthening the capacity of the Government of South Sudan to govern effectively and democratically and establish good relations with its neighbors.