- Russia destroying evidence at crash site: Ukraine
- Fears black boxes will be tampered with
- Full MH17 coverage
A frustrated Prime Minister Tony Abbott has told Russia's Trade Minister that Russia cannot “wash its hands” of the MH17 tragedy and that he distrusts President Vladimir Putin's assurances it will assist an impartial investigation into the tragedy.
MH17: Tony Abbott's daughters flew route
Prime Minister Tony Abbott tells the ABC Insiders program his own daughters flew on an MH17 flight back from Europe a few months ago.
The shooting down of MH17 over Ukranian territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists has claimed the lives of 298 people including 28 Australians and eight permanent residents.
Mr Abbott said he was personally touched by the tragedy because his daughters had flown on the MH17 some months ago on their way home from Europe.
“We can't let our emotions cloud our judgment but nevertheless these are wrenching times and there would hardly be an Australian who hasn't been emotionally touched by what we've seen, what we've felt over the last 48 hours or so,” he said.
“You look at the faces of the dead and they're your neighbours, they're your friends, they could be your kids because let's face it, we are a people who like to travel and my own daughters flew on MH17 some months ago on their way home from Europe. So this is a tragedy which touches us deeply.”
Mr Abbott summonsed Russian Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev, who was in Sydney for preliminary G20 discussions, to a meeting on Saturday after attempts to speak with more senior Russian officials were rebuffed.
MH17: Abbott defends 'unacceptable' comments
Tony Abbott's comments that were condemned as '"unacceptable" by Russia were in line with those of US President Barack Obama, and supported by the evidence the Prime Minister said on Saturday.
Mr Abbott confirmed on Sunday that he has not spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin and that Russia's foreign minister has still not accepted Foreign Minister Julie Bishop's request to speak to him on the telephone.
“I made crystal clear my concerns and dissatisfaction with the way this has been handled,” Mr Abbott told the ABC's Insiders program. “Russian-controlled territory, Russian-backed rebels, quite likely a Russian-supplied weapon: Russia can't wash its hands of this.
“My fear is that Russia will say the right thing but that on the ground interference with the site, interference with investigators, interference with the dignified treatment of bodies will continue.
“That's my fear.”
Russia can't wash its hands of this.
Mr Abbott said the crash site in eastern Ukraine is so chaotic that it is unclear who is removing bodies from the scene and where they are being taken.
Mr Abbott said two attempts by investigators to access the site had been hampered by pro-Russian separatists – including one attempt that was stopped by gunfire.
There have also been reports of looting at the crash site, raising doubts about whether important evidence, such as black boxes, can be secured.
“No one is really in charge,” Mr Abbott said. “It's absolutely chaotic … The kinds of things that would normally be happening in an air crash site are simply not happening and this just makes it absolutely imperative that Australia do everything we can to recover the bodies to ensure that the site is secured, a proper investigation is done and then justice is secured."
Mr Abbott said Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko had invited Australia to participate in an investigation into the disaster and be part of the body recovery operation.
Mr Abbott said there would be a commemorative service for the victims in around a fortnight – after the families of those who have died have been consulted.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is flying to the United States to push for a binding UN Security Council resolution demanding a full and independent investigation. She will also travel to Washington to meet with security and intelligence experts.