News / Europe

Angry Australian PM: Ukraine Crash Site Probe 'Shambolic'

  • Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe inspect a refrigerator wagon, which according to employees and local residents contains bodies of passengers of the crashed Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane, at a railway station in the town of Torez, Donetsk region, July 20, 2014.
  • Armed pro-Russian separatists stand guard at a crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Hrabove, Donetsk region, July 20, 2014.
  • A rescue worker shows a flight data recorder to a colleague at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Hrabove July 18, 2014 in this still image taken from video. Rescue workers have recovered a "black box" flight recorder from the wreckage of the Malaysian airliner.
  • Churchgoers together with bishop Jan Hendriks (L) light some 298 candles, representing the victims of the crashed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 plane, before a mass in the Saint Bavo cathedral in Haarlem, the Netherlands, July 20, 2014.
  • From right: New South Wales Governor Marie Bashir, Margie Abbott, Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Lady Lynne Cosgrove and Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove attend a mass at St. Mary's Cathedral commemorating victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, in Sydney, Australia, July 20, 2014.
  • Members of the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry work at a crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Hrabove, Donetsk region, July 20, 2014.
  • A delegate of the 20th International AIDS Conference ties a red ribbon to a memorial board as a tribute to colleagues killed in the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, in Melbourne, Australia, July 20, 2014.
  • Delegates observe a minute's silence during the opening session, as a tribute to colleagues killed in the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, July 20, 2014.
  • Malaysians pray during a special prayer for the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Malaysia, July 20, 2014.
  • Emergency workers carry the body of a victim at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 19, 2014.
  • A local resident stands near flowers and mementos placed at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the settlement of Rozspyne in the Donetsk region, July 19, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian fighters walk on a road with victims' bodies lying in bags by the side at the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines jet near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 19, 2014.
  • Emergency workers carry the body of a victim at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 19, 2014.
Images from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 Crash
VOA News

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott Monday hit out at the "shambolic" situation at the MH17 crash site as he demanded Russian President Vladimir Putin back up assurances with action.

At least 37 Australian passengers were among the 298 people aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, shot down over eastern Ukraine in an attack the West has blamed on separatist rebels armed by Russia.

“This is still an absolutely shambolic situation, it is an absolutely shambolic situation. It does look more like a garden clean-up than a forensic investigation,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters in Canberra.

“There's no doubt that at the moment the site is under the control of the Russian backed rebels and given the almost certain culpability of the Russian-backed rebels in the downing of the aircraft having those people in control of the site is a little like leaving criminals in control of a crime scene,” he said.

Abbott, speaking on a breakfast radio show, said he had spoken “overnight” to  Putin for the first time about the disaster, amid mounting horror over the treatment of victims' remains.

“To President Putin's credit he did say all the right things. I want to stress that what he said was fine," Abbott said. "The challenge now is to hold the president to his word, that's certainly my intention and it should be the intention of the family of nations to hold the president to his word."

Putin statement

Putin said on Monday the downing of the Malaysian airliner must not be used for political ends and urged separatists to allow international experts access to the crash site.

“Everything must be done to guarantee the security of international experts at the site of the tragedy,” Putin said in televised comments.

He reiterated his belief that the incident would not have happened if Ukrainian government forces had not ended a truce and resumed a military campaign against the pro-Russian separatists who have risen up in eastern Ukraine.

“However nobody should - and no one has the right to - use  this tragedy to achieve selfish political ends. Such events should not divide people, but unite them,” he said. 

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, British counterpart David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande also piled pressure on Putin over the weekend in phone calls.

Abbott, who has been critical of Russia's role in the disaster, said he had spoken to many Western leaders in the past two days and had noted “a much firmer and sterner mood” now.

He has branded the plane's downing "a crime", and accused Moscow of trying to wash its hands of the tragedy while failing to properly secure the crash site.

Moscow denies any involvement in the disaster.

Australia is leading a push for a binding U.N. resolution that demands those responsible be held accountable and that armed groups do not compromise the crash site integrity.

Diplomats said the U.N. Security Council could vote as early as Monday on an Australia-proposed resolution demanding international access to the Ukraine plane crash site and a cease-fire around the area.

But Australia and Russia late Sunday were still working out key differences, and Britain accused Moscow of using "delaying tactics."

The resolution calls for pro-Russia separatists to allow access to the site of the downed Malaysia Airlines passenger jet. It asks for the full cooperation of all countries in the region, including Russia.

UN support

Australia's foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said she expects all 15 council members to support her country's proposal.

Bishop is in the United States to lead the lobbying for support of the resolution.

She said it was "an utter outrage" that the site had been contaminated and evidence removed. "This is not a time to use bodies as hostages or pawns in a Ukrainian-Russian conflict," she told reporters in Washington.

On Sunday, pro-Russian militiamen in Ukraine loaded almost 200 bodies from the flight into refrigerated train wagons. A rebel chief said they were holding them until "the experts arrive."

Canberra wants a full and impartial investigation in the disaster, but Abbott said a key difficulty was that there was "no-one in authority in charge on the ground."

But Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said Moscow is concerned the draft "does not accurately reflect the need for an impartial, international investigation."

Churkin said Russia is proposing that the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency, take the lead in the investigation. The current proposal welcomes "the decision by ICAO to send a team to assist" Ukrainian investigators.

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant accused Russia of proposing amendment after amendment to delay passage of the resolution.

"It looks like a typical Russian delay in tactics, and one can guess why they want delay," Lyall Grant said.

The resolution also demands that armed groups who control the crash site do not disturb debris, belongings or victims' remains and cease military activities in the area.

US reaction

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned Russia on Sunday for what he called "overwhelming evidence" of complicity in Thursday's downing of the Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine.

In a series of appearances on Sunday news shows, Kerry said the evidence points to Russia supplying pro-Moscow separatists with a sophisticated SA-11 anti-aircraft system and then training separatists to use it.  

He said U.S. authorities have seen video, taken after the crash, of a missile launcher with at least one rocket missing. He said that battery was moved back into Russian territory from rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine after Thursday's attack, which killed 298 people near the Russian border.    

Kerry also voiced hope that the airline tragedy will galvanize support in Europe for more sanctions against Russia for its actions in eastern Ukraine in support of the pro-Russian separatists.

France, Britain and Germany warned Moscow Sunday it could face new economic sanctions if it does not force rebels to allow investigators unrestricted access to the crash site. 

Separatists so far have permitted only limited access to experts for short periods of time.

Abbott is due to host Putin and other world leaders at the G20 Leaders Summit in November and is facing mounting calls to ban the Russian leader from participating.

“I think we are getting ahead of ourselves. The G20 meeting doesn't take place until mid-November. It's four months away. There's a lot of water that will almost certainly flow under the bridge between now and November and I just think it's unhelpful to start speculating about what might happen in four months now,” he said.

A 45-strong Australian investigation team was either in or heading to Kyiv, but had so far been unable to travel to the site despite some improvement in access.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AP and AFP.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Global from: universe
July 21, 2014 8:19 AM
How could Tony Abbott see "absolutely shambolic situation" at the place of forensic investigation from Canberra? Is he become a clairvoyant, that could determine culpables without forensic investigation?
In Response

by: Beni from: Hawaii
July 21, 2014 5:45 PM
Just look at the photos! Every Tom, Dick and Harry walking around the wreckage picking through the debris. Disgusting and shameful!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs