The Harsh Words That World Leaders Now Have For Russia Following MH17 -- And What Happens Next

Picture: Getty Images

As early as last week, the European Union was divided over the need to impose further sanctions on Russia over its involvement in the Ukraine dispute.

Now, following the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and with the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting tomorrow, everything has changed.

Russia is unlikely to be able to wash its hands of playing a large role in supporting those responsible for the tragedy, and three days of obstructing foreign aid and observers to the site of the crash has only fueled international outrage against the nation and its president Vladimir Putin.

British PM David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have all agreed “the EU must reconsider its approach to Russia and that foreign ministers should be ready to impose further sanctions on Russia,” according to a Downing St spokesman.

Back in March, when Russia ramped up its military intervention in Ukraine, there was talk – quickly dismissed – of the US and United Nations countries stepping in to resolve the conflict.

Instead, the US and it allies embarked on a sanction campaign aimed at punishing Russia’s financial sector, and banished them from the G8.

There’s been a lot of debate about just how effective that policy has been. Here’s a great post from BI’s own Mamta Badkar that shows recent history suggests not so much.

In a Bloomberg Businessweek column, Carla Anna Robbins, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, points out three such failures. In it she mentions:

‘Sanctions have failed to dissuade Iran from continuing to enrich uranium. They haven’t dislodged North Korea’s repressive and erratic leaders or forced a rollback of their nuclear and missile programs. For all the international pressure on Syria’s Assad, the regime is getting more ruthless, not less, and the policy debate in Washington has moved on to how much military support to provide the rebels.’

Yet as late as Wednesday – just 24 hours before flight MH17 was shot down – US President Barack Obama flagged even more sanctions, aiming a direct blow at Russia’s economic heart by targeting Rosneft, the flagship oil giant that generates more than 4 per cent of the world’s crude and over 8 per cent of Russia’s GDP.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is calling the US a “bully” and claims the sanctions will only hurt American companies working in Russia. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev added that Russia “will have to pay more attention to military and security spending.”

Tomorrow, the heat will be on the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council and the world will perhaps get a better idea of how seriously sanctioning is taken on a global scale, as opposed to military intervention.

Here’s a round-up of what the world’s leaders expect. Some are pushing down the sanctions path, others want those responsible for the tragedy, and the country backing them, hauled up before an international court.

JOHN KERRY, US Secretary of State

'This is a very, very critical moment for Russia to step up publicly and join in the effort in order to make sure there is a full-fledged investigation … so no one will have doubt. No fingers will be pointed about conspiracies, about ideology and politics governing this.'

'Today we have reports of drunken separatists piling the remains in an unceremonious fashion and actually removing them from the location,' Kerry said on CNN’s 'State of the Union.' They are interfering with the evidence in the location. They have removed, we understand, some aeroplane parts.

'We want the facts. And the fact that the separatists are controlling this … even as the site is tampered with makes its own statement of culpability and responsibility.'

Kerry spoke with his counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, about the matter:

'It was a direct and tough conversation,' he said. 'We’ll see if anything happens as a result of that.'

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PETRO POROSHENKO, Ukrainian President

'Those who are connected to the terrorist attack cannot be party to the negotiations. Their crime should be investigated in international courts. Virtually all of them are Russian citizens and cannot have a conversation about the future of Ukraine.'

'Today the whole world has seen the true face of the aggressor, for shooting down a civilian plane is an act of international terrorism, directed against the whole world.

'External aggression against Ukraine is not solely our problem, this is a threat to European and global security. Overcoming it requires joint efforts.

'After effective operations of the Ukrainian army the mercenaries and their 'big brother' more and more often and impertinently resort to undisguised military actions against our country.'

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TONY ABBOTT, Prime Minister of Australia

'The bullying of small countries by big ones, the trampling of justice and decency in the pursuit of national aggrandisement and reckless indifference to human life should have no place in our world.'

On the attempts to reach the site:

'The Russians, as everyone has seen over the last 48 hours, are trying to wash their hands of this but it is impossible for Russia to wash its hands of something which happened in what is effectively Russian-controlled territory. It seems at the hands of Russian-backed individuals, most likely with a Russian supplied or facilitated weapon.

' is an absolutely chaotic site. The kinds of things that would normally be happening in an air crash site are simply not happening and this just makes it absolutely imperative, imperative that Australia does everything we can to recover the bodies, to ensure that the site is secured, a proper investigation is done and then justice is secured.'

Abbott spoke with the Russian Trade Minister who was in Sydney for meetings connected with the G20:

'He was left in no uncertain terms our concerns and our demands that Russia fully assist this inquiry.

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MARK RUTTE, Prime Minister of The Netherlands

'I was shocked at the pictures of utterly disrespectful behaviour at this tragic spot.'

'I pointed out that it was 35 degrees at the crash site and that the bodies need to be recovered now. I want to see results: unhindered access and the repatriation of the victims.'

Rutte spoke directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

'I told (Mr Putin): Time is running out for you to show that you have good intentions, to do what the world expects you to do and to exert your influence over the rebels.
'He has one last chance to show he means to help.'

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DAVID CAMERON, Prime Minister of Britain

'This is a direct result of Russia destabilising a sovereign state, violating its territorial integrity, backing thuggish militias, and training and arming them. We must turn this moment of outrage into a moment of action.'

If President Vladimir Putin does not change his approach to Ukraine then Europe and the West must fundamentally change our approach to Russia,' Cameron wrote in a Sunday Times article. 'This is not about military action, plainly. But it is time to make our power, influence and resources count.

‘This is not about military action, plainly. But it is time to make our power, influence and resources count.’

Cameron spoke directly with Putin in a 30-minute call.

'(You have) contributed to an appalling tragedy. Ten of my citizens have just been killed in a plane brought down by a missile fired by Russian separatists.
'I have been asking to speak to you since this happened. You clearly can play a role in exerting influence on the separatists to grant us access to the site.’

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'(This is) an outrage of unspeakable proportions’

'This should snap everybody's heads to attention. I think that this certainly will be a wake-up call for Europe and the world that there are consequences to an escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

'It is not possible for these separatists to function the way they're functioning…without sophisticated equipment and sophisticated training—and that is coming from Russia.

'If Mr Putin makes a decision that we are not going to allow heavy armaments and the flow of fighters into Ukraine ... then it will stop.

'He has the most control over that situation - and so far he has not exercised it.'

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ANGELA MERKEL, German Chancellor

'Those who shot the plane down must be brought to justice, that's why an international inquiry is needed.'

'These events have once again shown us that what is required is a political solution and above all that it is also Russia that is responsible for what is happening in Ukraine at the moment.

'It's true that separatists are heavily armed and there is evidence that parts of this armament came from Russia. That is why the border regime is so important and for OSCE inspectors to be able to go and see what is coming across the border.'

Merkel spoke directly with Putin on Saturday morning.

'Both agreed that an international, independent commission under the leadership of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) should get quick access to the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane in east Ukraine.'

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NAJIB RAZAK, Malaysia Prime Minister

'(It was an) inhumane, uncivilised, violent and irresponsible act.'

'We must, and we will, find out precisely what happened to this flight. No stone will be left unturned.

'If it transpires that the plane was indeed shot down, we insist that the perpetrators must swiftly be brought to justice.

Putin called Razak to offer his condolences.

'Both sides stressed the importance of an objective international investigation into the cause of the tragedy... This would be helped by an immediate end to military operations in southeastern Ukraine.'

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VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russian President

'This tragedy wouldn’t have occurred if there had been peace on this land and hostilities hadn’t been renewed in Ukraine’s southeast. And of course the government on whose territory this occurred is responsible for this terrible tragedy.'

'Direct talks between the opposing sides must be established as soon as possible. All sides in the conflict must swiftly halt fighting and begin peace negotiations.

'It is with great concern and sadness that we are watching what is happening in eastern Ukraine.

It's awful, it's a tragedy.'

Picture: Getty Images

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