Russia Proposes Limited U.N. Involvement in MH17 Investigation

Russia asks for more UN involvement
A man carries flowers outside the Dutch embassy to commemorate the victims of the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17 in eastern Ukraine a year ago, in Kiev, Ukraine July 17, 2015. Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Russia proposed a draft resolution in Monday's closed-door U.N. Security Council meeting calling on the U.N. to perform a greater role into the MH17 investigation. The resolution also rejects the involvement of a U.N.-backed tribunal proposed last week.

The Russian resolution, obtained by Reuters on Monday, expresses concern over the current method of investigation under the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), composed of Belgium, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Australia and Malaysia. The document says the JIT investigation "does not ensure due transparency in its organization and work methods, which may have a negative impact on its outcome."

The document calls for the appointment of a U.N. special envoy to investigate the crash and asks U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report back to the the security council in two weeks time with "steps that would enhance the role of the United Nations in support of the investigation."

Russia is adamant that the investigation move forward. "It is important for the Security Council to take clear and decisive action against those responsible for the downing of MH17 to send a clear message to the growing number of non-State actors with the ability to target civilian aircraft that such attacks will not be tolerated," the resolution says.

British Ambassador to the U.N. Matthew Rycroft told Newsweek: "There must be justice for the 298 lives lost when MH17 was brought down. The UK supports the Joint Investigation Team's initiative and the draft resolution put forward by Malaysia to establish an international tribunal to bring justice and accountability for the despicable act last July. Russia's draft resolution offers no proposal for accountability."

Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down in Eastern Ukraine over territory held by Russian-backed rebels, on July 17 last year while traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The 298 passengers on board were all killed. Russia and the Russian-backed rebels in Ukraine deny any culpability in the incident, claiming the plane was shot down by a Ukrainian Su-25 military airplane, not a Russian-made surface-to-air missile.

Malaysia approached the U.N. Security Council on July 2nd to pursue the establishment of a U.N.-backed tribunal to prosecute those found responsible for bringing down the passenger flight. The members of the U.N. Security Council including China, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia aim to vote on the proposed tribunal later this month. Russia holds veto power and could prevent the tribunal from taking shape.

A lawsuit for 783 million euro ($855 million) was filed against Igor Girkin, the leader of the Donetsk People's Republic, on behalf of the families of 17 of the Malaysian flight's victims on Wednesday July 15. The representing Chicago-based lawyer Floyd Wisner told Newsweek last week: "The suit really is not about money, it's an attempt to focus attention on the concerns of our victims families, perhaps they are getting lost in the shuffle." Wisner continued, "it really seems to us, and to them, that not much has been done. No perpetrators have been brought to criminal justice and the families feel somewhat forgotten. They want to get some kind of answers."

Wisner sees politics as one of the largest obstacles to the families getting justice in this case, he continued saying, "maybe the lawsuit itself will spark some action diplomatically or politically. Maybe some countries, the US included, can get some backbone and deal with Putin's Russia."