An angry Prime Minister Tony Abbott has rejected Russian attempts to skirt responsibility for a plane crash which killed hundreds including 28 Australians.
A tough-talking Prime Minister Tony Abbott is squarely pointing blame at Russia over the devastating missile attack on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which has left 298 people dead, including 28 Australians.
Shot down from Ukrainian airspace on Friday, the stricken passenger jet was seen to splinter dramatically midair before scattering wreckage and bodies over several kilometres.
The world should be “filled with revulsion”, Mr Abbott said of the tragedy, the worst to have affected the nation since the 2002 Bali bombings claimed 88 Australian lives.
“This is a grim day for our country and its a grim day for our world,” he declared.
“We owe it to the families of the dead to find out exactly what has happened and exactly who is responsible.”
Russian ambassador to Australia, Vladimir Morozov, was summoned to a meeting in Sydney with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to demand an assurance his government would co-operate fully with an investigation into the attack.
“The initial response of the Russian ambassador was to blame Ukraine for this and I have to say that is deeply, deeply unsatisfactory,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Canberra.
“The idea that Russia can somehow say that none of this has anything to do with them, because it happened in Ukrainian airspace, frankly does not stand up to any serious scrutiny.”
It was clear the Boeing 777 was brought down in territory held by Russian-backed rebels and likely using Russian-supplied heavy artillery, Mr Abbott said.
“Anyone who gave such a weapon to people who are absolutely incapable of using it … has a heavy responsibility, should feel a sense of shame over what has taken place.”
Mr Morozov told Ms Bishop that to his knowledge no Russian weapons or surface-to-air missiles could have been used in the attack.
He added that Russia will do what it can to find those responsible.
An angry Mr Abbott warned Russia not to stand in the way of an independent international investigation.
He added that the early signs from Moscow were not promising that Vladimir Putin’s administration would co-operate.
Australia would press the UN Security Council to initiate an international investigation of what has been described as a terrorist attack, but as a permanent member Russia can exercise a right of veto over such a move.
“Russia should certainly not be allowed to stand in the way of that just because the aircraft has come down over territory controlled by Russian-backed rebels,” Mr Abbott said.
Due in Brisbane in November for the G20 leaders summit, Mr Putin is likely to receive a frosty welcome if indeed he is permitted to attend.
Mr Abbott adopted a wait-and-see approach to whether the Russian leader will be excluded from the summit.
While it is an important international gathering, Australia has to maintain its strength and self-respect, he said.
Nor would the prime minister confirm if Mr Putin would be on the list of world leaders he intends to call over the weekend for discussions about the crash.
But he said Russians should realise their country’s world standing is at risk because of the horrific event.
While the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is offering support to Australian families whose relatives have been killed, other consular officials are en-route to Kiev.
A federal police representative will travel to the crash site to determine how Australia can assist the initial Ukrainian investigation.
Around the globe on Saturday Australian flags will fly at half-mast at government buildings and a national day of mourning will coincide with a national commemorative service at a later date.
The prime minister will join Governor-General Peter Cosgrove for a service at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney on Sunday.