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Security Council demands access to plane crash site

Members of the security council, including Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin, vote on a resolution concerning access to the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 during a security council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Monday, July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council Monday condemned the downing of a Malaysian passenger plane in Ukraine with 298 people on board and demanded that armed groups allow “safe, secure, full and unrestricted access” to the crash site.

The 15-member council unanimously adopted a resolution drafted by Australia, which lost 28 citizens in the crash, demanding those responsible “be held to account and that all states cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability.”

“We owe it to the victims and their families to determine what happened and who was responsible,” Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said.

Bishop told the council that Russia “must use its influence over the separatists” to ensure access to the site. “Russia must also use its influence to bring the conflict in Ukraine to an end.”

Russia voted in favor of the Security Council resolution after some changes were made to the text, including the characterization of the incident as “the downing” of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 Thursday instead of “shooting down.”

A request by Moscow for references to armed groups to be removed from the resolution was not granted.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said: “We were able to improve the text sufficiently for us to be able to support it.”

“We welcome Russia’s support for today’s resolution, but no resolution would have been necessary had Russia used its leverage with the separatists Thursday, getting them to lay down their arms and leave the site to international experts,” U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said.

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.”

It “supports efforts to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines” and “demands that all States and other actors refrain from acts of violence directed against civilian aircraft.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 22, 2014, on page 1.

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