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Kremlin respects position of China that abstained from UNSC vote on MH17 crash — spokesman

July 30, 2015, 13:34 UTC+3
Angola, Venezuela and China abstained as 11 UN Security Council members supported the resolution on the establishment of a MH17 tribunal
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MOSCOW, July 30. /TASS/. Kremlin respects China’s decision to abstain during a UN Security Council vote on the issue of establishing an international tribunal to investigate the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crash in Ukraine in 2014, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.

"We always respect the stance taken by our Chinese colleagues," Peskov told reporters.

China hopes UN Security Council will support further MH17 crash investigation

China hopes that all members of the UN Security Council will support further investigation of the Flight MH17 crash in Ukraine, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told TASS on Thursday.

"China supports an independent, fair and impartial investigation into the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crash and identification of the perpetrators," the diplomat noted.

"In a situation where some members of the UN Security Council have serious concerns regarding the draft resolution, coercion to voting only leads to rift within the UN Security Council. This cannot alleviate the suffering of relatives of those killed in the MH17 crash, reveal the true picture of the events and bring those responsible to justice," Hong Lei said.

"The Chinese side hopes that all Security Council members will look ahead to continue working on the resolution and to promote further investigation," the diplomat added.

UN Security Council vote

The UN Security Council on Wednesday did not pass a resolution on the establishment of a tribunal to criminally prosecute those responsible for the MH17 crash that was submitted by Malaysia. The document, co-authored by Malaysia Australia, Belgium and Ukraine, was supported by 11 UN Security Council members, which is enough to pass the resolution. However, Russia used its veto right to block the resolution, and three countries - Angola, Venezuela and China, abstained.

Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said, commenting on the decision to vote against the draft resolution that the document is devoid of any legal and precedent basis, and its initiators were pursuing the political propaganda purposes.

According to Churkin, Russia has repeatedly explained this to all colleagues, urging them to think of alternatives. The stance of Russia that regarded this step as premature, ill-conceived and legally untenable, has been disregarded, Churkin said. According to him, the authors of the text have refused to act in a spirit of cooperation, put it to a vote, knowing in advance that it would not pass. Churkin said that this testifies to the fact that political propaganda purposes for them were more important than practical aspects.

Churkin said that Russia had done everything in its power to ensure the rapid adoption of resolution 2166 (2014) [adopted several days after the crash outside Donetsk] and an independent and thorough investigation. The Russian government was also in favour of a further resolution securing free and unimpeded access to the crash site. He said Russia’s decision to vote against the draft resolution on the establishment of a tribunal for the air crash had nothing to do with encouraging impunity.

He said that Moscow had proposed the appointment of a Special Representative of the Secretary-General, which had not been accepted. Similarly, its proposal to involve the UN more closely in the investigation had been rebuffed. An alternative draft put forward by Russia’s government had sought to promote a genuine international and independent investigation, and still remained on the table.

Churkin said Russia did not support the creation of an international tribunal under Chapter VII, as resolution 2166 (2014) had not considered the downing of the aircraft a threat to international peace and security. Moreover, the experience of the tribunal for the former Yugoslavia had not been useful, as such courts were expensive. When Ukraine had brought down a Russian aircraft and the United States had brought down an Iranian aircraft, international tribunals had not been demanded. On the other hand, where there were threats to international peace and security, such as piracy, the idea of an international tribunal had not enjoyed support in the Council. Efforts to present the draft for a vote, in full knowledge that it would not be adopted, underscored the political motives behind the move. So, the Russian government’s position did not promote impunity.

The Boeing 777-200 of the Malaysia Airlines (Flight MH17) en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed on July 17 in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk Region, some 60 km (over 37 miles) from the Russian border, in the zone of combat operations between the Donetsk self-defense forces and the Ukrainian army. All the passengers and crewmembers onboard the aircraft - 298 people, citizens of 10 states - died. Most of the passengers - 196 people - were Dutch citizens. According to the key theory of the crash, the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air or an air-to-air missile. The Ukrainian authorities and representatives of the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Luhansk have been accusing each other of the crash. The United Nations Security Council on July 21, 2014 demanded a comprehensive and independent investigation. Russia’s foreign ministry has repeatedly said Russia was not satisfied with how the investigation was being conducted.

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