Russian President Vladimir Putin is still expected to attend the Group of 20 nations summit in November, Australia said, as pro-Russian rebels were blamed for shooting down a Malaysian jet over Ukraine.
“It is an economic summit,” Treasurer Joe Hockey said in an interview in Sydney today when asked whether Putin was likely to attend. “In an unrelated way, we can’t allow individual events to prevent people from meeting together to resolve differences.”
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing Co. 777 crashed en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam in the main battleground of Ukraine’s civil war, killing all 298 people on board, including 28 Australians. The government in Kiev blamed the attack on pro-Russian separatists, while U.S. officials said the weapon was probably a Russian-made model used widely in Eastern Europe.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who will host the G-20 summit in Brisbane, said earlier today Russia would bear a share of responsibility if it supplied weapons that brought down the jet. His government summoned the Russian ambassador in Canberra to discuss the crash.
“If, as now seems certain, it’s been brought down by a Russian-supplied surface-to-air missile, Russia bears a heavy share of responsibility,” Abbott said in a Melbourne radio interview. “This is not something that can just be dismissed as a tragic accident when you have Russian proxies using Russian-supplied equipment to do terrible things, if in fact this is what turns out to have been the case.”
Putin, who has repeatedly denied Russian involvement in the fighting in Ukraine, has directed Russian military and civilian authorities to “investigate this crime,” according to a transcript of his remarks to Cabinet ministers. The separatists have denied shooting down the plane.
President Barack Obama and his fellow G-7 leaders said in March they would suspend partipation in the broader G-8 that includes Russia as a sanction against Putin’s annexation of Crimea.
Asked whether he thought Putin would attend the Brisbane summit, Hockey said: “I suspect so.”
“We use forums like the G-20 to mitigate the impact of individual events on the momentum in the global economy,” Hockey said.
Australia will work at the United Nations Security Council for a binding resolution to ensure a full, impartial investigation that will have full access to the crash site and individuals who may have been involved, Abbott told parliament today.
“This looks less like an accident than a crime,” Abbott told parliament. “If so, the perpetrators must be brought to justice.”
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop summoned Russian Ambassador Vladimir Morozov to ensure Putin’s government will fully cooperate with the investigation. Morozov denied that pro-Russian separatists were culpable for the attack, Bishop said.
Australia has led efforts to find Malaysian Air Flight 370, which disappeared in March with 239 people on board, with investigators believing it crashed in waters off the nation’s west coast. That killed six Australians.
Many passengers on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 were en route to the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, said Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, the meeting’s co-chair.
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