September 19, 2014 / 7:14 PM / in 3 years

Russia critical of MH17 inquiry, wants bigger U.N. role

People stand near the remains of fuselage where the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed, near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo) in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine September 9, 2014. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russia on Friday criticized an international investigation into the downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane in Ukraine, saying it can be transparent only with more U.N. involvement, even though the world body found the inquiry met international standards.

The U.N. Security Council met, at the request of Russia, to discuss a preliminary Dutch Safety Board report that said flight MH17 crashed due to a “large number of high-energy objects” penetrating the fuselage. The conclusion supported a theory that the plane had been shot down by a ground-based missile.

“The preliminary report of the DSB (Dutch Safety Board) is not very informative and doesn’t contain convincing information about the circumstances of the crash,” Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the 15-member council.

He said Moscow believed a transparent and objective investigation could be carried out only “with the help and participation in the investigation of the U.N.,” suggesting that a U.N. envoy and assistance mission should be considered.

The jetliner crashed in Ukraine in pro-Russian rebel-held territory on July 17, killing 298 people, two-thirds of them from the Netherlands. Ukraine and Western countries accuse the rebels of shooting it down with a Russian-made missile.

Russia has rejected accusations it supplied the rebels with SA-11 Buk anti-aircraft missile systems.

“Russia made clear its real intention is not to learn about the investigation, but to discredit it,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told the council.

“Russia is fighting in Ukraine. Russia has provided artillery and surface-to-air missiles to separatists in Ukraine. It has trained separatists on those surface-to-air missiles. It has moved troops into Ukraine. Russia has no standing to offer advice on this investigation,” she said.

Churkin rejected accusations that Russia was attempting to disparage the investigation. He told reporters on his way into the council that such claims were “unwarranted and provocative.”

U.N. political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman briefed the council on the preliminary results of the Dutch-led inquiry.

“The United Nations is confident that the Dutch-led international investigation has been conducted in accordance with Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation,” he said, referring to a international standards for such inquiries.

On July 21, the Security Council adopted a resolution that demanded armed rebel groups allow “safe, secure, full and unrestricted access” to the crash site and that those responsible “be held to account and that all states cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability.”

Although a small number of Malaysian inspectors and Dutch body recovery experts reached the site, fighting between the rebels and Ukrainian forces kept Dutch crash investigators away.

Feltman said a Sept. 5 ceasefire in eastern Ukraine was “largely holding” but “conditions are still not conducive for investigators to have full and unfettered access to the site.”

“The Secretary-General once again calls on all those with influence on the situation to exert it immediately so as to create a propitious security environment for investigators,” he said.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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