Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has made an “urgent” appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin not to veto a UN Security Council resolution to try those who shot down flight MH17 over Ukraine.
Rutte’s office said he telephoned Putin ahead of the vote in New York to seek his backing for setting up an international tribunal to try the as-yet unidentified suspects behind the downing of the Malaysia Airlines jet that killed 298 people in July 2014.
“In the frank and detailed conversation, Rutte called urgently on the Russian president to make a trial possible for those behind MH17 with a UN tribunal,” said a statement from Rutte’s office.
Malaysia, the Netherlands, Australia, Ukraine and Belgium have called for such a tribunal and Malaysia has circulated a draft resolution to that effect with a vote set for around 0500 AEST on Thursday.
The resolution would require all countries to co-operate with the special tribunal or face sanctions.
Russia remains firmly opposed to such a tribunal and is highly likely to use its veto.
Moscow wants instead to wait for the completion of an ongoing Dutch-led international investigation into who the perpetrators are.
A separate Dutch report into what, but not who, downed the aircraft is expected in October.
Rutte said he addressed Russia’s concerns during the phone conversation.
“It is precisely to prevent the politicisation of the judicial process that it is desirable to decide on the tribunal before determining the facts and the charges,” he said.
Russia has drafted an alternative resolution that does not include a tribunal but asks for a full international investigation.
The flight was downed over rebel-held east Ukraine during heavy fighting between Kiev’s armed forces and pro-Russian separatists. The majority of passengers on the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were Dutch.
Ukraine and many in the West have accused pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the plane, saying they may have used a surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia.
Russia and the rebels deny any responsibility and point the finger at Ukraine’s military.