July 21, 2017

July 29, 2015


Russia’s decision two years ago, on July 29, 2015, to veto a United Nations resolution that would create an international tribunal regarding the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, drew sharp criticism from 11 out of the 15 U.N. Security Council members who backed the resolution.

Supporters of the resolution were three of the five permanent members of the UNSC: France, the United Kingdom, the United States; and eight of the 10 non-permanent members: Chad, Chile, Jordan, Lithuania, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria and Spain. The remaining three members, Angola, China and Venezuela, abstained.

The tribunal would have been tasked with investigating and trying those responsible for firing the missile that caused the Boeing 777 to crash on Russia-occupied territory of eastern Ukraine. The proposal was backed by Malaysia, Australia, the Netherlands and Ukraine.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that Russia had “failed to stand up and be counted in the quest for international justice,” noting that Russia’s veto was “exceptionally disappointing” but “not surprising.” He added that countries involved in a Dutch-led investigation would now focus on other legal options “at both the international and national level… supported by a broad international coalition” because “the perpetrators… must not be allowed to escape punishment.”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot called Russia’s veto “outrageous,” noting “…Russia has shown complete disregard for the families’ right to know who was responsible and to see these criminals face justice.”

The majority of the 298 victims were Dutch, while nearly 40 people were Australian citizens or residents.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said Russia’s veto “callously disregarded the public outcry in the grieving nations,” and told the council, “no veto will stand in the way of this heinous crime being investigated and prosecuted.”

Moscow accused Kyiv of shooting down the airliner, but justified its veto by saying it was denied access to the crash site that was under the control of the pro-Russia forces.

Russia had proposed its own resolution that asked for a greater U.N. role in an investigation into what caused the downing of MH17 but stopped short of a call for a tribunal. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin reminded the Security Council that international tribunals in the past were “expensive.”

Source: “Russia’s veto of U.N. resolution on MH17 tribunal is condemned,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, The Ukrainian Weekly, August 2, 2015.