Russia can’t control separatists: Robb

The Russian government cannot guarantee it would or could control separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine where a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down, a senior Australian minister says.


Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb says he spoke with his Russian counterpart, Denis Manturov, on Friday about whether Russia could force a ceasefire in the region to aid an independent investigation.

“Australia is looking for an unequivocal Russian assurance that they will fully co-operate with an independent and thorough UN investigation and urgently,” Mr Robb told Sky News on Saturday.

“The Russian trade minister did convey their deep condolences and indicate the government would co-operate with … (a) UN investigation.”

“They did not give me an assurance that Russia would or could stop the separatists with their current activities.”

Mr Robb said the Australian government’s concerns would be passed along to the Russian prime minister directly and suggested trade sanctions may be considered.

“These are things we need to consider in the goodness of time,” Mr Robb said.

“It is a matter of how Russia responds, co-operates and is proactive in seeking answers, ensuring we understand where this equipment came from, what really happened and who trained the people who carried out this horror act.”

Labor foreign affairs parliamentary secretary Matt Thistlethwaite said the opposition would support further trade sanctions on Russia provided they were lawful.

Australia currently has travel bans and financial sanctions on 50 Russian and Ukrainian individuals.