Russia vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have set up an international criminal court to prosecute those responsible for shooting down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine a year ago.
Malaysia, the Netherlands, Australia, Ukraine and Belgium had expressed their support for such a tribunal and Malaysia had circulated the draft resolution. The foreign ministers of all five counties were present in the U.N. Security Council’s meeting Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte made an “urgent” appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin not to veto the resolution.
Rutte’s office, in a statement published on the Dutch government website, said he telephoned Putin ahead of the vote in New York to seek the Russian leader’s support for setting up the international tribunal.
“In their open and detailed conversation, Rutte urged the Russian president to allow latitude for trying those responsible for the MH17 disaster in a U.N. tribunal,” the statement said.
Moscow has said that it wants to wait for the completion of an ongoing Dutch-led international investigation into the air disaster.
According to the statement, Rutte said he addressed Russia’s concerns during the phone conversation.
“It was preferable to make a decision about the tribunal before the facts and charges have been established precisely in order to avoid politicizing the prosecution process,” he said.
Russia has offered its own draft resolution, demanding justice for those responsible for the crash, but opposes establishing a criminal tribunal regarding the MH17 air disaster.
On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, with 298 passengers on board, about two-thirds of them Dutch, was hit by a surface-to-air missile over the eastern Ukraine region held by Russian-backed separatists while traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Ukraine and the West suspect the plane was shot down by either Russian soldiers or the separatists, but Russia has repeatedly denied that.
Russia has presented a different scenario, denied by Kyiv, that the airliner was downed by a rocket fired from a Ukrainian fighter jet.