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National statements

The Situation in Ukraine

Thematic issues

  • Accountability
  • Justice
  • MH17
  • Ukraine


Statement by HE Ms Philippa King, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

Thank you Mr President.

The grounding of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 into Ukrainian territory on 17 July has shocked the world. We have witnessed the tragic death of 298 people. There were 28 Australians on board MH17. Our nation is in mourning for all of the victims. The news that the lives of 80 children have been lost is devastating. Flags will be flown at half mast tomorrow across Australia. We extend our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the families of all the victims of this tragedy, and to their countries of nationality. Our particular thoughts are with the Goverments and people of the Netherlands and Malaysia.

There is mounting evidence that the crash was caused by a missile strike, and was downed in territory not controlled by Ukrainian authorities; and mounting credible information that this was conducted by separartist militia groups acting with the assistance of others. We owe it to victims of this tragedy, and their families, to unequivocally establish the facts behind this incident; to find out exactly what happened and who is responsible. If, as appears increasingly likely, Flight MH17 was brought down by a missile, then this is, as Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said, "an unspeakable crime". And the perpetrators must be brought swiftly to justice.

There must be a full, thorough and impartial international investigation. We thank Under-Secretary-General Feltman for his message that the UN is fully ready to cooperate with any investiagtion and that ICAO has offered its investigative capacity. We also welcome Mr Feltman's advice that ICAO and the Government of Ukraine are speaking regarding the issue of an investigation. There must be immediate preservation of the crash site and unfettered access for independent investigators. Safe access must also be provided to allow recovery of the bodies of those who have lost their lives in this tragedy. Undertakings brokered by the Trilateral Contact Group with armed separatists that control the territory in which the crash occurred to allow access must be upheld. Our Prime Minister has made it clear that Russia's full cooperation with all investigations is expected.

The Council has just issued a Press Statement calling for investigation, accountability and for immediate access to the crash site. This is very welcome. But Australia believes, given the gravity of the incident, that it is not sufficient indication of the Council's resolve. Australia believes the Council should adopt a resolution which reinforces the need for access to be granted to the crash site, and for a full, thorough independent and international investigation to be carried out.

Mr President

This is the 19th time that this Council has met to discuss the situation in Ukraine since the crisis began.

Time and time again the overwhelming majority of this Council has called for an end to the violence and destablisation. Council members have consistently called for a de-escalation of tensions, for separatists to lay down their weapons and for genuine dialogue to commence. It is time for the equivocation and dissembling and false narratives of some to stop.

In the three weeks since the Council last discussed the situation in Ukraine, the security situation in the East has become increasingly dire. Separatists have ignored repeated calls to disarm, and have continued their attacks on Ukrainian military forces, facilities and border posts. Two Ukrainian military cargo planes have been downed in eastern Ukraine only in the last week.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces have responded firmly to these attacks. Ukraine has every right to restore law and order, and has underlined its commitment to do so in proportionate manner.

Russia has a crucial role to play in de-escalating this persistently dangerous crisis. It must end its provocations and any support for separatist forces. It must control its border with Ukraine, and prevent the flow of weapons, equipment and fighters from Russia into Ukraine. Russia must withdraw the large number of troops it has again amassed on the Ukrainian border. It must actively work to de-escalate tensions, and use its considerable influence with separatist groups in Ukraine to that end.

Further political efforts are essential. The four party talks in Berlin in the last 2 weeks showed some promise. The parties agreed on the need for a sustainable ceasefire, the resumption of the Contact Group; control of border crossing points monitored by the OSCE, and an extension of the work of the OSCE observer mission to include border monitoring activities. But we are yet to see results. These efforts must be re-doubled.

Mr President

We had thought the situation in Ukraine had already caused too much tragedy. The horrific loss of Flight MH17 has added immeasurably to that toll. It is time for the international community to stand as one, to ensure those responsible for this tragic crime are held to account, and to make every effort to bring to an end to the violence and destabilisation in Ukraine.

Thank you Mr President.

Last Updated: 17 June 2015
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