UNITED NATIONS • Russia is pushing for a greater United Nations role in an investigation into what caused the downing of a passenger plane in eastern Ukraine after dismissing a proposal by Malaysia, Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ukraine for a UN-backed tribunal.
Led by the Dutch, the countries are holding a criminal inquiry into the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash and circulated a draft resolution to the UN Security Council earlier this month that would create a tribunal to prosecute those responsible.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin has described the move as counterproductive and premature.
Russia has instead circulated its own rival draft UN resolution that would "demand that the perpetrators of the aerial incident be brought to justice". The 15-member council discussed the rival draft resolutions on Monday.
New Zealand Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen, president of the council for this month, said it was a "very positive discussion", but noted that the key hurdle was the issue of a tribunal.
SUPPORT FOR TRIBUNAL
There was strong support in the room for the establishment of a tribunal. Russia, of course, has a different perspective on this.
NEW ZEALAND AMBASSADOR GERARD VAN BOHEMEN, on the UN Security Council discussions on the rival proposals on MH17
"There was strong support in the room for the establishment of a tribunal. Russia, of course, has a different perspective on this," he said.
Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said earlier that Moscow was opposed to an international tribunal because "we believe it's not in the UN Charter, the UN Security Council is not supposed to deal with situations like that".
Flight MH17 was shot down on July 17 last year with 298 people on board, two-thirds of them Dutch. It crashed in Ukrainian territory held by Russian-backed rebels.
A final report on the cause of the crash, separate from the criminal investigation, is due in October from the Dutch Safety Board.
Ukraine and Western countries accuse the rebels of shooting down the plane with a Russian-made missile.
However, Moscow has rejected accusations that it supplied the rebels with SA-11 Buk anti-aircraft missile systems.
The Russian UN draft, seen by Reuters, would request UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to report to the council within two weeks on "the steps that would enhance the role of the United Nations in support of the (safety) investigation" and the appointment of a UN special envoy on the incident.