(Adds U.S., Russian, Dutch and Australian comments, background;
in paragraphs 4, 10-12, 14-19)
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS, July 21 The United Nations
Security Council on Monday condemned the downing of a Malaysian
passenger plane in Ukraine with 298 people on board and demanded
that armed groups allow "safe, secure, full and unrestricted
access" to the crash site.
The 15-member council unanimously adopted an
Australian-drafted resolution demanding those responsible "be
held to account and that all states cooperate fully with efforts
to establish accountability."
"We owe it to the victims and their families to determine
what happened and who was responsible," said Australian Foreign
Minister Julie Bishop, who traveled to New York to negotiate the
U.N. resolution. Australia lost 28 citizens in the crash.
She spoke about some of the Australian victims, including
three children - aged 8, 10 and 12 - traveling home from Europe
with their grandfather on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on
Thursday. "The parents are inconsolable in their grief," Bishop
The United States and its allies have blamed pro-Russian
rebels for downing the plane.
Bishop told the council that Russia "must use its influence
over the separatists" to ensure access to the site.
Veto-wielding council member Russia voted for the resolution
after some changes were made to the text, including the
characterization of the incident as the "downing" of the
airliner instead of "shooting down."
A request by Moscow for references to armed groups to be
removed was not granted.
The resolution "demands that the armed groups in control of
the crash site and the surrounding area refrain from any actions
that may compromise the integrity of the crash site, including
by refraining from destroying, moving, or disturbing wreckage,
equipment, debris, personal belongings, or remains."
A train carrying the remains of most of the victims of the
downed plane left the site on Monday and will be handed over to
authorities in the Netherlands, after the Malaysian Prime
Minister reached a deal with the leader of pro-Russian
separatists controlling the area.
Almost 200 of the victims on the flight to Kuala Lumpur from
Amsterdam were Dutch. An emotional Dutch Foreign Minister Frans
Timmermans said it was despicable that human remains were being
used in a political game.
"We will not rest until all facts are known and justice is
served," Timmermans said.
The resolution "supports efforts to establish a full,
thorough and independent international investigation into the
incident in accordance with international civil aviation
guidelines" and "demands all States and other actors refrain
from acts of violence directed against civilian aircraft."
Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Russia was ready
to assist an international investigation but warned against
"jumping to conclusions" on who was to blame. Evidence should be
given to the United Nations' International Civil Aviation
Organization, he said.
Churkin said Ukraine had questions to answer regarding the
actions of its air traffic controllers and why a Ukrainian Buk
anti-aircraft missile system "was in an area directly controlled
by rebels" and why it was removed just after the downing of the
Russia's Defense Ministry on Monday challenged accusations
that pro-Russian separatists were responsible for shooting down
the airliner and said Ukrainian warplanes had flown close to it.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told
the council there had been too little condemnation from Russia.
"If Russia genuinely believe that Ukraine was involved in
the shoot-down of flight 17 surely President (Vladimir) Putin
would have told the separatists ... to guard the evidence at all
costs," Power said.
When asked what Russia would tell the separatists, Churkin
told reporters: "Our message is reflected in the resolution,
this is our message."
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli,
Chizu Nomiyama and Mohammad Zargham)