Russia vetoes Security Council bid for Flight MH17 tribunal

The veto was the second during New Zealand's month chairing the UN's decision-making body. 

Russia has vetoed a move by the UN Security Council, chaired by New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully, to establish an international tribunal to try those suspected of shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine a year ago.

TV3 News, which has a reporter at the UN in New York, reports 11 council member nations voted for the resolution and three abstained. But permanent member Russia exercised its veto to stop the resolution.

It is the second time a veto has been used this month, when New Zealand was chairing the council. It is also the first time two vetoes have occurred in a single month since 1972.

On July 8, Russia also used its veto to strike down a resolution opposing genocide and marking the 20th anniversary of the massacre at Srebrenica in Boznia Herzegovina.

The MH17 resolution was promoted by Malaysia and supported by the Netherlands, Australia, Ukraine and Belgium as well as New Zealand.

The three abstaining nations were China (also a permanent member), Venezuela and Angola.

Before the vote, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte made an urgent appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin not to veto the resolution.

“Mr Rutte urged the Russian president to allow latitude for trying those responsible for the MH17 disaster in a UN tribunal,” the Dutch government said in a statement on its website.

Russia has said it wants to wait for the completion of a Dutch-led international investigation. It also denies any direct responsibility.

According to the Dutch statement, Mr Rutte said he addressed Russia's concerns during the phone conversation.

"It was preferable to make a decision about the tribunal before the facts and charges have been established precisely in order to avoid politicising the prosecution process," Mr Rutte said.

The Boeing 777 aircraft was carrying mainly Dutch nationals on its flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

All 298 passengers and crew died when it was hit by a missile, believed to have been launched by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Russia has offered its own draft resolution, demanding justice for those responsible for the crash, but opposes establishing a criminal tribunal into the MH17 air disaster.

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