Russia vetoes U.N. tribunal to investigate MH17 crash in Ukraine

Story highlights

  • Russia vetoes the draft resolution; 11 other Security Council members vote in favor, three abstain
  • Australia: "Russia has shown complete disregard for the families' right to know who was responsible"

(CNN)Russia has blocked a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have created an international tribunal to prosecute those responsible for bringing down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine.

Russia was alone in the 15-member council in voting Wednesday in New York against the establishment of the tribunal. Eleven members voted in favor. China, Venezuela and Angola abstained.
    MH17, which was bound from the Netherlands to Malaysia, was shot down on July 17, 2014, over Ukrainian territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists. Disputes over who is responsible for the disaster have helped to sour relations between Moscow and the West.
    Malaysia's transport minister said he was deeply disappointed by the failure to find unity in the Security Council and that the wrong signal had been sent to the families and friends of those killed.
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    A statement from the office of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott slammed Russia's use of its veto power -- which it holds as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council -- as "outrageous."
    "By its actions today, Russia has shown complete disregard for the families' right to know who was responsible and to see these criminals face justice," the statement said.
    "Russia had an opportunity to join the international community in this effort.
    "Its actions reinforce concerns Russia is protecting the perpetrators and continuing to assault the sovereignty of Ukraine."
    Official Russian news outlet RT.com quoted Russia's U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin as saying Moscow still "stands ready to cooperate in the conduct of a full independent and objective investigation of the reasons and circumstances of the crash."
    Russia had earlier indicated that the resolution was too political and didn't wait for the outcome of two investigations currently underway.
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    Earlier this month, the Netherlands and four other nations leading the MH17 inquiries called on the U.N. Security Council to create a tribunal that would try whomever is charged, saying in a joint statement that it would be "the best means of ensuring justice for the victims and their loved ones."
    Those on the flight included 196 Dutch citizens, as well as dozens of Australian and Malaysian citizens.
    But Russian President Vladimir Putin said that efforts to create the U.N. tribunal were premature and counterproductive, since an investigation into what happened -- led by the Dutch transportation safety board and due to report in October -- is still ongoing.
    A source told CNN that the board, in a draft report yet to be released, says evidence indicates that pro-Russian rebels shot down MH17 above war-torn eastern Ukraine with a Russian-made surface-to-air missile.
    A second, criminal investigation is expected to report by the end of the year.
    Multiple Western nations, as well as the Ukrainian government, have said they believe pro-Russian rebels operating there shot down the plane. Rebel leaders and the Russian government have repeatedly disputed the accusations.