U.N. Security Council unanimously approves probe of crash in Ukraine

U.N. Security Council unanimously approves probe of crash in Ukraine
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin listens before a meeting at the United Nations in New York. The Security Council met Monday to discuss the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine. (Timothy A. Clary / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images)

The United Nations Security Council, increasing pressure on Russia over the downing of a jetliner of Ukraine, adopted a resolution Monday calling for investigators to have unfettered access to the crash site and demanding a cease-fire in the area.

Russia, which has been accused by other nations of involvement in Thursday's shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, joined other Security Council members in the 15-0 vote. As a permanent member of the Security Council, it had the power to veto the resolution.


The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said a resolution would not have been necessary if Moscow had used its influence over pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine to permit access to the scene, where bodies and debris were strewn for miles.

The foreign minister of Australia, which drafted the resolution, said Russia "must use its influence over the separatists" to ensure key points of the resolution are upheld.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop addressed the council, citing "grotesque violations" of the crash site, where gunmen have been in control of the scene. "It's despicable that this access is not being provided" to investigators, Bishop said. "It is an affront to the victims and their families."

At least 27 Australians were among the 298 victims on the plane, which U.S. officials have said was brought down by a missile fired from an area under control of the separatists.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's U.N. ambassador, said his nation "stands ready to provide any assistance necessary."

But Churkin quickly resumed attacks on Ukraine, accusing it of drawing on the "shock" of the jet's downing to step up its own attacks along the border against the separatists, who are seeking independence and possible union with Russia.

Churkin, who has blamed Ukrainian aviation officials for the shooting down of the jet, also rejected the U.S. allegations of Russian involvement in blocking access to the crash site.

"There's no need to turn the discussion of the tragedy into a farce," he said, referring to the U.S. ambassador's comments.

Late Sunday, it had been unclear if Russia would join in voting for the resolution. The final wording, however, does not assign blame for the crash. It expresses concern that "armed groups in Ukraine" have impeded access to the crash site and calls for a "full, thorough, independent international investigation" into the jet's downing.

The resolution demands that armed groups in control of the site refrain from moving, destroying or disturbing wreckage, personal belongings, human remains and debris. It may be too late for that, however, given the movement of bodies from the scene and witnesses' accounts of activities at the site.

Ukraine's ambassador to the world body, Yuriy Sergeyev, said whatever investigation unfolds should look at more than just what downed the jet. "Namely, who actually fired the missile," he said. "Where did the weapons come from."

Bishop agreed, telling reporters that it was "pretty clear what had happened. We just need to determine who did it."