After days of heavy diplomatic pressure, Russia joined with other nations on the United Nations Security Council this evening in voting in support of a resolution demanding an independent investigation into the downing of MH17 over eastern Ukraine and an end and to military activity around the crash site.
At a sometimes emotional session of the council, attended by ambassadors and also by the foreign ministers of Australia and the Netherlands, two nations intimately touched by the tragedy, Russia nonetheless faced repeated and sometimes harsh criticism for its perceived failure to force separatists in the area to respond much sooner to global demands for access to the site and to the bodies of those who perished there.
To the separatists and anyone who helped them, Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, declared: “You will be held to account for your actions”. She added that the world demanded that the bodies of the victims be handed over at once so families and friends can find closure. “We will not rest until this is done, we will not rest until we bring them home,” she said.
Samantha Powers, the US envoy to the UN, said that the global community has been “horrified and enraged” at the way the site and the human remains have been treated since the crash, citing news footage of “armed thugs walking through the site, debris crunching beneath their feet”. She also said that while the world has condemned those who compromised the crash site and mishandled human remains, “there is one party we have heard too little condemnation from and that is Russia”.
Video: The European response to MH17 crash
“Russia’s muteness” since the crash “sent a message to the illegal groups it supports – we have your backs,” she told a hushed Council. She said moreover that Russia is serious now about ending the violence in the area it should end its support for separatists and go further and “take back the heavy weaponry it has given them”.