Russia plans to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution to set up an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of downing a Malaysian Airlines plane over Ukraine last year, according to a Russian official.
The government in Moscow argues that such a venue wouldn’t provide a fair trial because Russia is unlikely to have any part in it, according to the official, who asked not to be named as the deliberations are private and said a final decision hasn’t been made. Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, this week said the nation would vote against any such resolution.
Malaysia is seeking a vote on the resolution, supported by countries including the Netherlands and Australia. Russian President Vladimir Putin told Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte by phone that his government has “many questions” about the evidence in the case, which makes a tribunal “inexpedient,” the Kremlin said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday.
Russia blamed Ukraine for the downing of flight MH17 last July, which killed all 298 people on board, while the U.S. and the government in Kiev said Russia-backed separatists were at fault. Putin in November promised Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to ensure a full investigation.
Dutch investigators say that the evidence points to the involvement of pro-Russian rebels, who fired a missile from separatist-controlled territory, CNN reported this month, citing a person familiar with the report. The report also says that Ukraine authorities are partially responsible for allowing the plane to fly over a war zone, according to the person.
Putin has condemned what he has called “openly politicized” leaks from an unpublished report by a Dutch-led investigation into the July 17, 2014 crash, and said that no decision should be taken on prosecuting and punishing those found guilty until the inquiry is completed.
The five countries whose nationals were among the victims - - the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, Ukraine and Malaysia -- will push again for international prosecution in October when the Dutch Safety Board releases its final report on the crash.