Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Putin says 'all the right things' to Australia PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin said "all the right things" in a phone call with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who on Monday demanded he back his words with action over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Russian President Vladimir Putin said "all the right things" in a phone call with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who on Monday demanded he back his words with action over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said "all the right things" in a phone call with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who on Monday demanded he back his words with action over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

The two leaders spoke overnight in their first conversation since the plane, carrying 298 people, crashed in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, apparently shot down by pro-Russian rebels with a surface-to-air missile.

While Mr Abbott would not go into details about what was discussed with Mr Putin, he said the onus was now on Moscow to act.

"He did say all the right things and now he has to be as good as his word," he told Macquarie Radio.

"I am not going to have this conversation and say 'well, that's nice, President Putin said everything will work out fine' and just accept that.

"I am now going to try and ensure, as far as Australia humanely can, we insist upon these things happening."

Mr Abbott has been vocal in his outrage at Russia's perceived lack of cooperation in the investigation into the disaster.

He has branded it "a crime" and accused Moscow of trying to wash its hands of the tragedy, and failing to properly secure the crash site.

Twenty-eight Australian nationals and nine residents were among the 298 people from a dozen countries on board who died.

Mr Abbott's comments follow Australia on Sunday circulating a draft UN Security Council resolution - that could be put to a vote as early as Monday - demanding that pro-Russian separatists provide "full and unfettered access" to the crash site.

Canberra wants a full and impartial investigation, but Mr Abbott said a key difficulty was that there was "no-one in authority in charge on the ground".

Mr Abbott said his priority was to do "the right thing" by the Australian victims and their families by ensuring bodies were treated with respect, the crash site was secured and a thorough investigation undertaken.

"Then of course, we have to punish the guilty," he said.

"We have to do our best to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice."

He said that while there had been some signs of improvement, including Ukrainian government officials gaining access to the site, the situation was still completely unacceptable.

"The site is being treated more like a garden clean-up than a forensic investigation," he said.

"The wreckage has been picked over, it's been trashed, it's been trampled." On Sunday, pro-Russian militiamen in Ukraine loaded almost 200 bodies from the flight into refrigerated train wagons.

A rebel chief said they were holding the bodies until "the experts arrive".

Australian experts are in Kiev, ready to travel to the crash site, Mr Abbott said.