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UN SECURITY council members called today for “a full, thorough and independent international investigation” into the apparent shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines aeroplane in eastern Ukraine.
They stressed the need for “immediate access by investigators to the crash site to determine the cause of the incident.”
While the council’s conclusion was unanimous, Washington and Moscow expressed sharp differences during the prior debate.
Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin questioned why Ukrainian aviation authorities had allowed a passenger flight through an area of armed clashes where anti-aircraft systems were working.
He said that there should be an impartial and open investigation into what had happened to the plane and the 298 people on board and that the outcome should not be prejudged.
Ensuring civilian aviation security in a state’s airspace is the responsibility of that state, said Mr Churkin.
But US ambassador Samantha Power told the emergency security council meeting that Washington could not rule out that Russia helped in the launch of the surface-to-air missile that apparently shot down the plane.
She said that the US believed that the plane had probably been downed by an SA-11 missile fired from an area in eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
Russia had provided SA-11s and other heavy weapons to the separatists, Ms Power added.
“Separatists initially claimed responsibility for shooting down a military transport plane and posted videos that are now being connected to the Malaysian Airlines crash,” she said.
“Separatist leaders also boasted on social media about shooting down a plane, but later deleted these messages.
“Because of the technical complexity of the SA-11, it is unlikely that the separatists could effectively operate the system without assistance from knowledgeable personnel. Thus, we cannot rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel in operating the systems.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin phoned Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte yesterday, backing a “thorough and unbiased” investigation.
He underlined that the tragedy again highlighted the need for the swiftest peaceful solution to the acute crisis in Ukraine.
Mr Putin called for a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, urging both sides to hold peace talks as soon as possible.
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