The Minister’s meetings
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's response to a media question on the sidelines of the Russia-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, Kuala Lumpur, August 5, 2015
Question: Could you please comment on Australia’s intentions as regards the investigation into the tragedy of the MH17 flight?
Sergey Lavrov: I think it would better for Australia to abide strictly by UN Security Council resolution 2166 as a first step. Canberra and other capitals that have established a joint group for investigating the plane crash have ignored most of the requirements of this resolution. Initially, four countries – Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ukraine – announced the formation of the group on the basis of the August 2014 bilateral agreements without even inviting Malaysia to join them, which raised many questions. Malaysia started working in this group only in December 2014. Thus, Malaysia did not take part in the investigation for five months. I believe this fact made many wonder how this investigation started at all.
The said resolution called for a comprehensive, thorough and independent international investigation into the accident under the aegis of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). But the ICAO is not being consulted. It plays second fiddle at relevant discussions. A group for technical inquiry into the case was established in addition to the criminal investigation group. More countries, including Russia, were invited to take part in it. However, Russian representatives do not receive all the information that is at the disposal of its other members.
The said resolution urged the UN secretary-general to identify possible options for UN support for the investigation. However, no recommendations were submitted for consideration by the UN Security Council. Last year Russia insisted twice on the consultations of the Security Council on the grounds that the council wanted to be fully involved in monitoring the investigation. We suggested sending its mission to the site of the tragedy so that its members could see everything first hand. We also asked the UN secretary-general to appoint a special envoy to follow the investigation. Both proposals failed to receive support and were turned down by a number of countries, including those that now insist that the UN Security Council should adopt a resolution on establishing a tribunal.
Russia is the only country to have provided information from its radars that were monitoring the air space on the day of the crash. Our American partners declared that they have satellite footage but never presented it to the public. Ukrainians were repeatedly asked to submit recordings of talks between air traffic controllers, the air control tower and the crews of the aircraft that flew over that territory on that day. This was not done either.
We believe it is necessary, above all, to complete the investigation, which should be carried out in strict accordance with the requirements of UN Security Council Resolution 2166. These requirements are stated but not carried out. I am confident that the complete implementation of this resolution and free and fair discussion of all facts would make it possible to produce a comprehensive report that would help all of us, primarily Malaysia and other countries whose citizens perished in this horrible disaster, to learn the truth and bring to account those who are responsible for it.
And the last point. The ICAO preliminary report said that the aircraft was downed by numerous high-energy objects. Any expert who has even a little experience of inquiries into civil aviation crashes will tell you that it is very easy to collect these objects and find out where these weapons were produced and by which armed forces they are used. To my knowledge, this information was not made public and they were not analysed. Needless to say, we all heard allegations blaming a Russian-made Buk air defence system for the disaster on the second or third day after it. If their authors were confident about this, they should have addressed without delay the producer of these systems, the Almaz-Antei Russian concern, which manufactures weapons used by the armies of many countries in the post-Soviet space. The concern was not addressed but its experts made their own analysis, which was published on June 2 of this year. This is a very interesting material and it is available online. I advise you to read it.