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MH17: UN votes to support Australia's resolution

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop addresses the UN Security Council, which voted unanimously to support Australia's resolution demanding full access for investigators at the Malaysia Airlines crash site in eastern Ukraine.

PT1M25S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3cbxh 620 349

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution tabled by Australia demanding that armed groups immediately surrender control of the crash site of flight MH17 to allow for the repatriation of victims and an international investigation into the attack.

Russia’s support for the resolution was secured following negotiations led by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and UN Ambassador Gary Quinlan, which lasted into the early hours of Monday morning and resumed before the vote, which was held at 5.30 on Tuesday morning Australian eastern standard time at the UN’s New York headquarters.

Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop speaks to members of the Security Council during a meeting at United Nations in New York

Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop speaks to members of the Security Council during a meeting at United Nations in New York Photo: Reuters

Russia secured minor changes to the resolution during the negotiations, including changing wording to say that the Malaysian Airlines flight had been “downed” rather than “shot down”. The statement does not assign blame for the incident.

The resolution "demands that the armed groups in control of the crash site and the surrounding area refrain from any actions that may compromise the integrity of the crash site, including by refraining from destroying, moving, or disturbing wreckage, equipment, debris, personal belongings, or remains". 

“All parties are required to fully co-operate with these efforts,” Ms Bishop said in a statement to the Security Council after the vote.  “Russia must also use its influence to bring the conflict in Ukraine to an end. 

“We must have answers. We must have justice. We owe it to the victims and their families to determine what happened and who was responsible.”

Speaking after Ms Bishop, US ambassador Samantha Power used her statement to chastise Russia over its failure to condemn the attack and use its influence to force rebels to cede control of the site.

"We are not only outraged at the attack itself," she said. "We are horrified and enraged by what has happened since — by the clear intention of some to obstruct an investigation into how the passengers and crew died.

“If Russia genuinely believed the Ukraine was involved in the shoot down of flight 17 surely President Putin would have told the separatists, many of whose leaders are from Russia, to guard the evidence at all costs.

"We welcome Russia's support for today's resolution, but no resolution would have been necessary had Russia used its leverage with the separatists on Thursday getting them to lay down their arms and leave the site to international experts." 

But the Russian ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, hit back in his statement, saying that Ms Power had turned the discussion of the tragedy into a farce. 

He said Russia would offer its full support for an investigation, adding that it was wrong to “jump to conclusions” and saying that Ukraine had serious questions to answer. 

He said that Russia had detected increased Ukrainian radar activity before the jet was bought down.

Asked after the meeting whether he was suggesting Ukraine had shot the aircraft down he said he was just asking questions.

The most emotional statement was given by Frans Timmermans, the Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister. 

“Since Thursday, I’ve been thinking how horrible the final moments of their lives must have been, when they knew the plane was going down. Did they lock hands with their loved ones? Did they hold their children close to their hearts? Did they look each other in the eyes, one final time, in a wordless goodbye? We will never know,” he said.

“The demise of almost 200 of my compatriots has left a hole in the heart of the Dutch nation. It has caused grief, anger and despair. Grief for the loss of loved ones, anger for the outrage of the downing of a civilian airplane and despair after witnessing the excruciatingly slow process of securing the crash site and recovering the remains of the victims.”

Like other representatives, he expressed gratitude for Australia’s role in drafting and negotiating the resolution.

“I particularly want to thank Julie Bishop personally. Julie, we are in this together,” he said.

Speaking after the meeting the two foreign ministers dismissed Russia’s suggestion that Ukraine was behind the attack.

Mr Timmermans said it was “mindboggling” to suggest that Ukraine was behind the attack when its government had done everything it could to support an international investigation while Russian-backed separatists had done what they could to hamper it.