Prime Minister Tony Abbott has dismissed as unsatisfactory Russia’s attempt to blame Ukraine for the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet.
Tony Abbott has dismissed as “deeply, deeply unsatisfactory” the response his government has been given by the Russian ambassador to the Malaysia Airlines disaster.
A clearly angry prime minister eschewed diplomatic niceties in describing a meeting between Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Vladimir Morozov on Friday.
“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,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Canberra in Friday.
He also warned Russia not to stand in the way of an independent international investigation.
Mr Abbott said it was clear that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was brought down in territory held by Russian-backed rebels and likely using Russian-supplied heavy artillery.
“The initial response of the Russian ambassador was to blame Ukraine for this and I have to say that is deeply, deeply unsatisfactory,” he said.
The prime minister said Australia would press the UN Security Council to initiate an international investigation of what has been described as a terrorist attack.
“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.
Russia, a permanent member of the council, can exercise a right of veto over any move.
Mr Abbott said the early signs from Moscow that it would co-operate with a full and impartial investigation were not “especially promising”.
“Hopefully the Russians will realise their whole standing in the world is at risk here,” he said.
The prime minister would not say whether he intended talking to Russian president Vladimir Putin in the “range of phone calls” he intends making to global leaders over the weekend.
Already he has spoken to the Dutch and New Zealand prime ministers and is due to speak to the Malaysian leader Najib Razak shortly.
Mr Abbott declined to indicate whether Australia would refuse to allow Mr Putin to attend the G20 leaders summit in Brisbane later in the year, saying it was unlikely the government would act without consulting other nations.
But it was important Australia acted with strength and self respect you would expect of a country with its standing, he said.
The government has assigned a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officer to each of the families affected by the crash which killed at least 28 Australians.
As well, 11 other consular representatives are being dispatched to the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
A specialist Australian Federal Police officer is en route to Ukraine to discuss how Australia can assist.
A hotline set-up for concerned relatives has so far received more than 900 calls.
Mr Abbott said it was premature to say there may be difficulties in repatriating the remains of Australian victims because the crash site is in territory not controlled by Ukraine.