The Netherlands is considering action against those responsible for downing flight MH17 and hindering access to the crash site, expecting Europe to fully back the nation as foreign ministers meet tomorrow in Brussels.
“Our top priority for now remains the repatriation of the bodies,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said during a briefing of parliament in The Hague today. “In the case that access remains insufficient in the coming days, all political, economic and financial measures are on the table for those that are directly or indirectly responsible for this.”
President Vladimir Putin, already facing sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its role in backing the rebels in Ukraine, is confronting worldwide scorn over the crash as evidence mounts that Russia provided the missile used to down the Malaysian Air jetliner on July 17, killing 298 passengers and crew. The disaster shouldn’t be used for political purposes, he said in a video posted on the Kremlin’s website.
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday that he agreed with his French and German counterparts that Europe should be ready to impose further sanctions on Russia at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers tomorrow.
“I am convinced that Europe will stand shoulder to shoulder -- everybody is putting pressure there where it is needed,” Rutte said. The Netherlands had 193 citizens on the flight.
The ministers will take action against Russia within the framework of the EU’s July 16 summit decision, German government spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz said today in Berlin. She reiterated Chancellor Angela Merkel’s call for Ukraine rebels to provide “swift” access to the crash site in eastern Ukraine.
A team of forensic experts has already arrived in Torez, where bodies have been stored in refrigerated train wagons, Rutte said. Most important now is to get the train moving, preferably to the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, he said.
Armed pro-Russian rebels are preventing the departure of the train, according to the government in Kiev.
Dutch public prosecution opened an investigation into the crash of MH17, spokesman Wim de Bruin said by telephone today. Dutch public prosecutor Thijs Berger has been in Kiev since July 19 to talk to authorities, De Bruin said.
King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima, together with Rutte and other members of the Dutch cabinet, are attending a meeting with relatives of the victims today in the city of Nieuwegein, located 47 kilometers (29 miles) south of Amsterdam.