KIEV (AFP) - President Petro Poroshenko on Friday called it a "moral duty" to punish those responsible for downing the MH17 flight over Ukraine one year ago, killing all 298 people on board.
"Our moral duty to honour the memory of the fallen ones is to ensure a fair punishment for those guilty in downing the aircraft. This crime represents a threat to the whole international community," Poroshenko said in a statement published on the presidential website.
"The murderers should know that... punishment is inevitable," Poroshenko said in the English-language statement.
The Western-backed leader said the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was shot out of the sky by a surface-to-air missile that could only have been supplied to the insurgents under direct orders from Russia’s most senior leaders.
“It would not have happened without participation, without a direct order from the highest political and military leadership of the neighbouring state,” said Poroshenko.
Russia denies supplying Ukraine’s eastern militias with the type of Buk missile system allegedly used in the attack.
It claims to have played no role in the 15-month conflict and has blamed the downing at various stages on either a Ukrainian-made Buk system fired by government soldiers or an air-to-air missile launched by Kiev’s air force.
Poroshenko on Friday reaffirmed his support for the establishment of a United Nations criminal tribunal that could prosecute those responsible for downing the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the idea “counterproductive”.
His official spokesman on Thursday refused to say whether Moscow would use its veto on the UN Security Council should a call to set up the tribunal come up for a vote.
But Poroshenko warned that his vow to find and punish the guilty were “not empty words”.
“Ukraine is ready to continue to provide all the support, information, necessary to bring those responsible to justice,” he said.