Russia vehemently opposes the creation of an international tribunal to prosecute those responsible for downing a civilian airliner over Eastern Ukraine last year – possibly because pro-Russian rebels are to blame.
The U.S., Dutch and other governments believe pro-Russian rebels fighting Ukrainian forces fired a Moscow-supplied missile that downed Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 on June 17, 2014, killing all 298 passengers and crew. Russia denies those allegations.
But a United Nations draft resolution establishing a tribunal to prosecute the perpetrators would need to win the support of Russia, a veto-holding member of the UN Security Council.
That doesn’t seem likely.
“Unfortunately, it seems that this is an attempt to organize a grandiose political show which only damages efforts to find the guilty parties,” Russian UN envoy Vitaly Churkin told reporters July 9.
Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the catastrophe. In an effort to avoid antagonizing Moscow, however, the draft sponsors are considering calling for the vote on July 21, a year after the Security Council’s first resolution condemning the event.
“Unfortunately, it seems that this is an attempt to organize a grandiose political show which only damages efforts to find the guilty parties”
- Vitaly Churkin, Russian UN envoy
The final report of the Joint Investigation Team looking into the disaster is due out in a few months, but leaks have directed blame at pro-Russian rebels. Members of the JIT are concerned that the chances of Russia blocking any international move to prosecute the responsible parties become greater as the report release date approaches.
“The logic of the five (JIT) counties is that [holding the vote] now, around the time of the first anniversary, before the investigation is concluded, allows one to sort of get away from any sense that this is going after one country or person,” a senior Security Council diplomat told Fox News on Tuesday.
The Dutch Safety Board is the lead agency of the JIT investigation. A draft of the report has reportedly been sent for review to Boeing, the United States’ NTSB and FAA and their equivalents in other countries. Several hundred pages long, the report will lay out a precise timeline of flight MH17. It is expected to determine the trajectory of the missile and who was in control of the territory from which the missile was fired. The report will also examine why the Malaysian Airlines pilot was cleared to fly over an active conflict zone.
Fox News’ Jonathan Wachtel contributed to this report