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UN calls for probe of plane downed over Ukraine

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 21, 2014 at 5:35 pm •  Published: July 21, 2014
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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Monday demanding international access to the site of the plane downed over eastern Ukraine and an end to military activities around the area, following intense pressure on a reluctant Russia to support the measure.

The resolution calls for a "full, thorough and independent international investigation" into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 carrying 298 people in Hrabove. It calls for pro-Russia separatists to allow access to the site of the crash. And it demands that armed groups who control the crash site do not disturb debris, belongings or victims' remains.

All 15 council members voted in favor of the Australia-proposed measure, which was co-sponsored by nine other countries that lost citizens in the crash.

The foreign ministers of Australia and the Netherlands, along with the U.S. ambassador and other diplomats, challenged Russia to use its influence with the rebels to comply with the resolution.

"I hope that Russia will now feel its responsibility, act on its responsibility. If it doesn't, it's going to have an increasingly isolated position in the international world," said Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, who traveled to New York for the Security Council meeting.

The vote came after a weekend of negotiations to overcome Russian objections to the text, including a phone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot.

Russia had pushed for the resolution to state that the International Civil Aviation Organization — rather than Ukrainian authorities — take the lead in the investigation. The final resolution fell short of that demand, but in an effort to assuage veto-wielding Russia, it included wording changes that played up the participation of the ICAO, a U.N. agency.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said he was satisfied that the ICAO would have a prominent role in the investigation, and welcomed the announcement that the Netherlands would also take a lead role.

"We could not simply allow the Security Council to endorse a Ukrainian-led investigation because we have no trust in their intention to conduct a truly objective investigation," Churkin told reporters after the vote.

In her speech to the council, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power rebuked Russia, saying a Security Council resolution would not have been necessary had Russia pushed the rebels from the start to allow unimpeded access to the site.

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