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Why is Russia against international tribunal over MH17 flight crash?

July 29, 2015, 18:47 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© TASS/Mikhail Sokolov

MOSCOW, July 29. /TASS/. In the context of the on-going information war against Russia, being waged in concert mostly by the United States and Ukraine, creation of an international tribunal for probing into the crash of the Malaysian Airlines’ Flight MH17 over Donetsk in Ukraine last summer would be a politicized show trial, and not a means of establishing the truth, polled experts told TASS.

A passenger jet liner Boeing-777-200ER (Flight MH17) en route from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to Kuala-Lumpur, Malaysia, crashed in the east of Ukraine’s Donetsk Region on July 17, 2014, killing all 283 passengers and fifteen crew - citizens of ten countries. The greatest suspicion is the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air or air-to-air missile. The Ukrainian authorities in Kiev and the militias of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic blamed each other for the plane’s loss.

On Wednesday, July 29, the UN Security Council is to put to the vote a draft resolution on creating a tribunal to investigate the MH17 disaster. Malaysia’s draft has the backing of the Netherlands, Ukraine, Australia and Belgium. This document a little more than two pages long qualifies the incident as a threat to international peace and security and envisages creation of an international tribunal for prosecution of those responsible for criminal actions that resulted in the loss of the Malaysian passenger liner.

Russia, one of the five permanent UN Security Council member-states with the right of veto, has already made it quite clear that it will not support the resolution. President Vladimir Putin on July 16 said the idea of creating an international tribunal before the official investigation was over looked premature. Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said Russia would certainly vote against and certainly use the right of veto, if need be. Earlier, Russia presented an alternative draft resolution in support of the independent international investigation of the air disaster.

Deputy Director of the Institute of the US and Canada Studies under the Russian Academy of Sciences, Pavel Zolotaryov, believes that creating a tribunal would be reasonable only if alongside the investigation of the MH17 crash it would also address the issue of exposing and prosecuting those responsible for the loss of a Russian air liner when Ukraine was holding a military exercise in 2001 and the shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane by the United States.

"Far more crucial than the creation of a UN tribunal would be an impartial and transparent investigation of the causes that resulted in the Malaysian Boeing’s crash. Otherwise it turns out that the UN Security Council plans to put the cart before the horse. This is not logical," Zolotaryov told TASS.

"Amid the information war, being waged by the United States, the Western countries and Ukraine, Russia was pointed to as the culprit before the investigation is over. Ukraine, in whose territory the plane crashed is interested in discrediting Russia to ward off charges against itself. The investigation is being conducted in a very secretive way. Ukraine refuses to provide the necessary documentation either to Russia or to the panel of inquiry. This explains why it is against the adoption of a resolution for creating a tribunal and insists on an alternative one pressing for an independent investigation of the plane’s crash," Zolotaryov said.

Lecturer at the political theory department of the Moscow state institute of international relations (MGIMO), Kirill Koktysh, is certain that the MH17 disaster, however tragic it may look, is not a threat to peace. "The UN Security Council’s draft resolution qualifying the air crash as a threat to international peace and security is devoid of any foundation," Koktysh told TASS.

"The practice of international tribunals, including the International Tribunal for former Yugoslavia in the Hague, has demonstrated its extreme ineffectiveness and politicization. The Hague Tribunal was in fact turned into a tool to persecute Yugoslavia’s former leadership. The tribunal’s reputation is doubtful and its verdicts, groundless. Russia is very skeptical about the idea of another international tribunal some wish to create before the investigation of the Malaysian Boeing disaster has been completed," Koktysh said.

"Also, it is very wrong to compare the number of passengers killed in the MH17 disaster and the thousands of civilians who died at the hands of the Ukrainian military in the southeast of the country. Nevertheless it would be quite appropriate to draw the UN Security Council’s attention to the need for exposing and punishing war criminals in Ukraine alongside an impartial investigation of the air liner’s crash," Koktysh said.

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