Late on 21 the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution condemning the downing of a Malaysian MH-17 passenger plane in eastern Ukraine with 298 people aboard.
The UNSC resolution N 2166 condemns in the strongest terms the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on 17 July in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine resulting in the tragic loss of 298 lives, reiterates its deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims of this incident and to the people and governments of the victims’ countries of origin, supports efforts to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines, recognizes the efforts under way by Ukraine, working in coordination with ICAO and other international experts and organizations, including representatives of States of Occurrence, Registry, Operator, Design and Manufacture, as well as States who have lost nationals on MH17, to institute an international investigation of the incident, and calls on all States to provide any requested assistance to civil and criminal investigations related to this incident, expresses grave concern at reports of insufficient and limited access to the crash site, demands that the armed groups in control of the crash site and the surrounding area refrain from any actions that may compromise the integrity of the crash site, including by refraining from destroying, moving, or disturbing wreckage, equipment, debris, personal belongings, or remains, and immediately provide safe, secure, full and unrestricted access to the site and surrounding area for the appropriate investigating authorities, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission and representatives of other relevant international organizations according to ICAO and other established procedures. The document demands that all military activities, including by armed groups, be immediately ceased in the immediate area surrounding the crash site to allow for security and safety of the international investigation and insists on the dignified, respectful and professional treatment and recovery of the bodies of the victims, and calls upon all parties to ensure that this happens with immediate effect. (1)
The resolution is a result of a compromise. The original draft was offered by Australia, (2) but it did not suit Russia.
The main reason for Russian objection was that the need for impartial international investigation was not stated definitely enough. Such lack of clarity looks rather strange under the circumstances. That’s why Moscow wanted the International Civil Aviation Organization-ICAO be involved. Though after the concerted draft resolution was ready to be submitted for vote, some countries wanted to denigrate Russia. (3)
Speaking at the deliberations the Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaliy Churkin noted that the crash called for a total impartial and full investigation, which was the target of the resolution. All elements of the truth should be brought to light, such as through the black boxes provided to investigators. There could be no jumping to conclusions or accusations. He said that Kyiv was attempting to draw on the shock of the international community, while its indiscriminate air strikes were hitting cities and killing civilians. In 2001, a Russian Federation flight travelling over the Black Sea was shot down. Ukraine refuted its legal responsibility. Given that, it would be frivolous to give Ukraine a lead role in the current investigation. They then would have to answer questions about their traffic controllers and the location of Buk systems, as well as about the nature of radio transmissions and videos of actors allegedly involved. «Today’s meeting was not going to be controversial», he said, pointing to his country’s participation in assisting the international investigation. Referring to comments made by the United States’ representative, he said there was no need to turn the tragedy into a farce.
It’s a pity the United Nations resolution did not mention some fundamentally important legal aspects related to the situation in Ukraine.
First, the use of private military contractors. There is an international convention in works on the activities of private military companies and human rights. It is supposed to be based on general provisions of international law. The resolution doesn’t even mention the responsibility of these organizations.
Second, the document gets around the problem which has already been settled from point of view of international law. I mean the activities of mercenaries. Italian Il Giornale wrote that foreign mercenaries (from Italy, (4) Sweden, Finland, the Baltic States and France) are taking part in the combat actions on the side of Ukrainian chasteners as soldiers of battalion Azov funded and controlled by Ukrainian tycoon Igor Kolomoisky. (5)
Churkin asked a number of questions about the actions of Ukrainian controllers and the reason for moving a Ukrainian Buk air defense system to the area under the control of self- defense forces. He asked why the system immediately left the place of location after the airliner was downed. Why the Ukrainian radar activities intensified on April 17? There were questions based on satellites data addressed by the Russian Ministry of Defense to Kiev. These questions should be repeated till answered otherwise the truth will never be found.
1) Why did Ukrainian air traffic controllers allow the plane to deviate from the regular route to the north, towards «the anti-terrorist operation zone»? (6)
2) Why the 9С18 «Kupol-М1» radars of the Buk air defense system were changing positions? (7)
3) Why the civilian airliner was accompanied by a Ukrainian combat plane? (8)
The majority of observers compare the annihilation of the Malaysian aircraft with other accidents in history, for instance the South Korean airliner brought down by Soviet air defense systems in 1983, the Iranian airliner hit by Americans in 1988, a passenger plane brought down by a Ukrainian air defense system in 2001 over the Black Sea. It’s normal to make these comparisons. Still I’d like to recall another accident which at first look differs from the 7/17 but the provocative methods are more resembling what happened in the Novorossiya airspace.
The Markale massacres took place in Bosnia in February 1994 and August 1995. This accident is discussed now during the trial proceedings of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the case against General Radko Mladic. The prosecutors tried to prove the two bombardments were carried out by the Army of the Republika Srpska targeting civilians during the Siege of Sarajevo in the Bosnian War. The court got enough evidence the crime was perpetrated by Bosnians. The goal of committing such a horrendous crime was to make the population feel compassion for the victims of Markale to demand retaliatory actions against Serbs. That’s exactly what happened. Russian Colonel A. Demurenko was a witness at the Radovan Karajic trial. He is expected to be a witness at the Radko Mladic proceedings. Some independent judges were not convinced by the story offered by the prosecutor. For instance. Nieto-Navia from Columbia who said no way Serbs could be guilty for the market massacre.
It’s the precedent that is important. To strike your own people to accuse the enemy in committing a crime and then make it acquire an international resonance. This is and tried and true method of the West. There is a similarity in the cases of the Markale massacre in Sarajevo and the Boeing disaster in the Ukrainian airspace – the same intent. Will see if the ICAO will manage to make clear all the details related to what happened on July 17, including perpetrators and those who ordered the crime to be committed.