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Estonia leads UNSC call for Russian cooperation in MH17 investigation

Video-linked UNSC session in progress Wednesday night.
Video-linked UNSC session in progress Wednesday night. Source: Ministry of Foregin Affairs

The UN Security Council (UNSC), which Estonia has a non-permanent seat on, discussed Wednesday evening the July 2014 downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine. The topic was raised by the Russian Federation; Estonia, together with other European Union Member States on the UNSC issued a statement condemning Russia's lack of cooperation with investigations to date.

The UNSC meeting took place via remote video link as a result of coronavirus restrictions.

The statement described criminal proceedings which began in the Netherlands on March 9 as an important milestone in establishing the actual facts of what happened.

"We welcome the legal proceedings of the Dutch judiciary, which are based on the work of the Joint Investigation Team, and we express our full confidence in their independence, impartiality and professionalism," the statement reads, according to an Estonian foreign ministry press release.

UNSC members France, Germany and Belgium joined Estonia in making the statement. Poland, which is not on the UNSC at present, also joined.

Foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu said that: "It is unfortunate that instead of meeting its obligations in accordance with the UNSC Resolution 2166, Russian authorities are undermining the independent and transparent investigation process. Two hundred and ninety-eight innocent people lost their lives in the MH17 tragedy and, at the very least, their families deserve justice. It is crucial to bring those responsible for this crime to justice," he continued.

Estonian Ambassador to the UN Sven Jürgenson underscored the need to establish a complete ceasefire in Ukraine, where insurgent fighting has been ongoing in the east of the country since 2014. The Crimea region was annexed by the Russian Federation in the same year.

"The downing of flight MH17 reminds us how an armed conflict can impact anyone in the world. This is why the international community must take a stronger stance against Russia's ongoing and systematic violation of international law in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.," Jürgenson said.

The MH17 was shot down on July 17 2014 while flying over eastern Ukraine, en route to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team has concluded that the plane had been struck by a surface-to-air missile launched by pro-Russian separatist forces, supplied by the Russian Federation, prior to crashing. Russia denies any wrong-doing.

The joint statement is here and Estonia's own statement is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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