OTTAWA: Russia must “account for its role” in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine and cooperate with efforts to establish truth and justice, foreign ministers of the world’s industrial democracies said on Sunday (Jul 15).
The statement by the G7 ministers came on the eve of a summit between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, but also just before the anniversary of the Jul 17, 2014 air disaster which killed all 298 crew and passengers when the airliner was shot down.
G7 ministers said a joint investigation into the crash had yielded “compelling, significant and deeply disturbing” findings on Russia’s involvement.
“We are united in our support of Australia and the Netherlands as they call on Russia to account for its role in this incident and to cooperate fully with the process to establish the truth and achieve justice for the victims of MH17 and their next of kin,” the statement said.
The call came not only before the Putin-Trump summit in Helsinki on Monday but as the Russian leader was to meet France’s President Emmanuel Macron in Moscow, where he was attending the World Cup soccer final on Sunday.
Along with France and the US, the G7 includes Britain, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada, currently holding the group’s presidency.
A Dutch-led probe concluded in May that the plane was struck by a Buk surface-to-air missile controlled by Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Rocket Brigade, based in the city of Kursk.
It said the missile had been brought from Russia into an area held by Moscow-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine and was filmed several times on July 17 and 18 in that area.
Russia has called the investigaton’s conclusions “unfounded.”
Many of the victims were from Australia and the Netherlands.
Joined by the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, the G7 ministers called on Russia to “immediately engage with Australia and the Netherlands in good faith to explain and to address all relevant questions regarding any potential breaches of international law.”
The Dutch government and Australia have said they may move towards submitting the complex dossier to an international judge or organization.
MH17 was on a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine, about 50 kilometres from the Russian border.
The plane crashed in an area controlled by pro-Russian fighters supporting a separatist insurgency.