Russia deflects Australia, US MH17 criticism

Russia has dismissed criticism from Australia, the US and other nations for its role in the Ukrainian conflict and the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17.


Responding after Australia on Friday used its place on the United Nations Security Council to call on Russia to end its support of separatist rebels in the Ukraine, Russian ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin pointed blame for the conflict elsewhere.

Churkin questioned why Ukrainian aviation dispatchers sent the Malaysia Airlines flight over an area of conflict where anti-aircraft missile systems were being used.

He also blamed the new Ukrainian government and pointed the finger at the US for pushing the government in Kiev into escalating the crisis.

“They are trying to lay the blame for the catastrophe caused by this path on Russia,” Churkin said in his address to the Security Council in New York.

Almost 300 passengers and crew died when MH17 was downed on Thursday over Ukraine, with 28 Australians and one American among the casualties.

US President Barack Obama told a White House press conference evidence indicated the jet was shot down by a surface-to-air missile launched from an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who will speak to Obama on Saturday (AEST) about Ukraine, has been one of the most vocal world leaders in criticising of Russia’s alleged involvement in the downing of the passenger jet.

Australia’s representative on the Security Council, Philippa King, added to the pressure on Russia.

“Russia has a crucial role to play in de-escalating this persistently dangerous crisis,” King told the Security Council.

“It must end its provocations and any support for separatist forces.

“It must control its border with Ukraine and prevent the flow of weapons, equipment and fighters from Russia into Ukraine.”

She called on Russia to withdraw the “large number of troops it has again amassed on the Ukrainian border”.

“It must actively work to de-escalate tensions and use its considerable influence with separatist groups in Ukraine to that end.

“Further political efforts are essential.”