Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has expressed dismay at the Russian government’s initial reaction to the loss of the Malaysian Airlines disaster in Ukraine, in which 298 people died including 28 Australians.
Abbott said it was clear flight MH17 was shot down, “over Russian backed rebel territory by what appears to be a Russian-backed rebel missile.”
“If Russia is to maintain any international standing at all” then it needed to cooperate fully with an independent inquiry into the disaster, Abbott said at a media conference in Canberra.
“This really is a test for Russia how transparent and fair dinkum is it going to be,” the prime minister said.
As Australia reeled from the emerging facts surrounding the incident, Russia’s ambassador to Australia was summoned by the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, who pressed for assurances that Russia would cooperate fully with investigations into the crash which has shocked the world.
Abbott was clearly unhappy with the initial response of the ambassador, which he said was to blame Ukraine. “I have to say that is deeply, deeply unsatisfactory,” he said.
“When you have a situation where Russian backed rebels appear to have killed Australians using, it may well turn out to be Russian supplied heavy weaponry, Australia takes a very dim view indeed and we want the fullest possible investigation.”
It was clear that the Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down, he said, and “probably” using Russian equipment.
“Any country which was inspiring and orchestrating [the kind of activity] has a heavy responsibility, and should feel a sense of shame over what has taken place,” Abbott said.
“These were innocent people going about their lives and they have been wantonly killed by Russian-backed rebels using probably, quite possibly equipment supplied by [Russia].”
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