UN Resolution Calls for Unrestricted Access to Ukraine Crash Site

The UN Security Council on Monday unanimously passed a resolution condemning the downing of the Malaysian passenger jet that killed all 298 aboard, and demanded that pro-Russian separatists controlling the crash site allow investigators unrestricted accesss to the area.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, speaking after the UN security council vote said, "We welcome Russia's support for the resolution -- but no resolution would have been necessary if they had pressured the rebels to allow an investigation full and unfettered access to the scene"

Australia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop welcomed the vote result, calling it an "uanmbiguous response" to an "utterly deplorable act."

Thirty-seven Australians died when the plane went down. Officials in Ukraine, the United States and the European Union say a surface-to-air missile slammed into the plane as it flew over eastern Ukraine on July 17.

U.S. President Barack Obama earlier Monday called on Moscow to use its influence over pro-Russian separatists to allow international investigators to reach the wreckage.

In remarks at the White House Monday, Obama said "The burden now is on Russia to insist that the separatists stop tampering with the evidence, grant investigators who are already on the ground immediate, full, and unimpeded access to the crash site."

Members of the Security Council vote on a resolution drafted by Australia, which lost 28 citizens in a Malaysian passerger plane crash in Ukraine, during meeting at United Nations headquarters in New York on July 21, 2014. /Reuters Members of the Security Council vote on a resolution drafted by Australia, which lost 28 citizens in a Malaysian passerger plane crash in Ukraine, during meeting at United Nations headquarters in New York on July 21, 2014. /Reuters

After intense international pressure, the separatists on Monday allowed a train carrying the bodies of the victims to leave the rebel-held town of Torez for the town of Kharkiv in Ukraine. The bodies are to be handed over to the Netherlands, the country that lost the most nationals in the crash.

Rebels controlling the crash site said Monday they would give the plane's flight recorders to Malaysian officials. The so-called black boxes contain voice and flight data recordings from the passenger plane.

Obama said the burden was on Russia and President Vladimir Putin to compel those "they encouraged, trained and armed" to halt the violence.

"Now is the time for President Putin and Russia to pivot away from the strategy they've been taking and get serious about trying to resolve hostilities with Ukraine in a way that respects Ukraine's sovereignty and respects the right of the Ukrainian people to make decisions about their own lives," said  Obama.

European leaders said Monday they were ready to increase sanctions on Russia to force Moscow to use its influence over the rebels to stop the conflict and allow international investogators access to the crash site.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament Monday that Russia could not expect to enjoy access to European markets and money if it fueled conflict in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has offered to turn over the lead in the investigation into the downing of a Malaysian airliner to the Netherlands.

Moscow on Monday implied that Kyiv was behind the downing of the passenger jet, saying that an Ukranian warplane had been flying just three to five kilometers away from the Malaysian plane at the time of the shootdown.

Russian President Vladimir Putin once again on Monday said the airliner would not have gone down if Ukraine had not re-ignited fighting last month in the region with separatists.

"We can say with confidence that if fighting in eastern Ukraine had not been renewed on June 28, this tragedy would not have happened. At the same time, nobody should or does have a right to use this tragedy to achieve their own selfish political objectives. Such events should not divide, but rather unite people."

"We need for all people who answer for the situation to uphold their responsibility both before their own people, as before the people of other nations, the representatives of which became victims of this catastrophe. It is necessary to do everything in order to secure the safe work of international experts at the site of the tragedy," he said.

Putin said Monday that Russia was doing everything possible to allow a team of experts from the UN International Civil Aviation Organization to investigate the scene.

VOA News / Jul. 22, 2014 08:05 KST