The last week’s breaking news was Russia’s veto at the UN to block a draft resolution submitted by Malaysia and four other countries, including Ukraine, to set up an international tribunal into the MH17 air disaster over Donbass in July 2014. The Malaysia Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board: 158 citizens of Netherlands, 27 –Austria, 38 – Malaysia (including 15 crew members), 11 – Indonesia, 9 –Great Britain, 4- –Germany, 3 – Philippines, and 1 citizen of Canada. Reportedly, the disaster was manmade. Eleven of the UN Security Council members supported the resolution, while three, including China – a permanent member - abstained from the voting. Russia voted against the resolution and vetoed it as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. EU expressed regret over Russia’s veto. Western media write Russia’s veto was predictable. In addition, Russia’s official representatives warned against the veto beforehand. Russia’s official stand is that the Malaysian Boeing case is political rather than legal, so there is no question of impartial inquiry into the incident. President of Russia Vladimir Putin expressed his disagreement with the idea in a phone talk with Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte on Wednesday evening, yet before the official presentation of the resolution to set up an international tribunal.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the draft resolution “an untimely and counter-productive initiative.” The Netherlands are chief investigators probing the MH17 air disaster. Russia’s alternative draft resolution for the UN suggests appointing a special representative of the United Nations to supervise the tragedy’s investigation. Russia suggests waiting for an official report of the Joint Investigation Team inquire into the disaster.
Immediately after the MH17 air disaster, the UN Security Council set up a Joint Investigation Team comprising experts from Malaysia, Australia, Belgium, Netherlands, and Ukraine, to inquire into the incident. The Team has not reported on the reasons of the disaster yet. It is expected in October 2015. However, on September 9 2014, the Dutch Safety Board published a preliminary report saying there are no indications that MH17 crashed was caused by technical faults. The Board found no sign the pilots sent a distress call either. Investigators said "high-energy objects" struck the jet and caused it to break apart in midair. Ukraine, the United States and its allies insist that the Malaysian Boeing 777 was shot down by the Donbass self-defense forces with a ground-to-air missile Buk-M they received from Russia’s Armed Forces.
Anyway, it is an established fact now that the Malaysian Boeing was brought down. Therefore, the countries included in the Joint Investigation Team submitted the draft resolution to the UN Security Council to set up a tribunal to find and punish those guilty. Officially, Russia bears no relation to the disaster of the Malaysian Boeing. The disaster did not happen above Russia’s territory and there were no Russian citizens on board. However, by vetoing the draft resolution on tribunal for Malaysia airline crash Russia demonstrated that the tribunal directly affects its interests.
Last Thursday, British Prime Minister David Cameron condemned Russia’s veto on the draft resolution and urged UN Security Council member-countries to find an alternative way to set up the tribunal. A representative of Holland, in turn, suggested possible options, the most promising of which was to set up the tribunal by general voting at the General Assembly.
Apparently, further steps of U.S. and its allies to set up the tribunal for the Boeing 777 disaster will be as follows: approximately in October, a group of experts from the five countries in charge of the investigation will publish the final report that will accuse Russia of direct culpability for attack on a passenger plane.
Afterwards, “the team of the five” will submit a resolution to the UN Security Council to set up an international tribunal to bring those guilty in downing of the Malaysian jet responsible. It should come as no surprise that Russia may veto that resolution too. Afterwards, the resolution with a general recommendation to set up the tribunal will be submitted to the General Assembly. Officially, the General Assembly is not authorized to adopt such decision. In the given case, however, there will be a precedent and general recommendation. The Assembly will pass the resolution by majority of votes. Afterwards, the “five countries concerned” will set up “the international tribunal.” Then, “an international campaign” will be launched at the national level for the other countries to recognize the tribunal as “international.” Actually, U.S. and its allies, the EU countries will recognize the tribunal as “international.” Afterwards, Russia among other political requirements will be demanded to acknowledge the competence of the “international tribunal” on the Malaysian Boeing case and to fulfill its requirements. This will become another measure of political pressure on Russia.
British Prime Minister Cameron has openly accused Russia of “standing in the way of justice.” Many experts in the West say Russia’s veto demonstrates the Kremlin’s complicity in the crash of the passenger jet. They say Russia with its veto has actually voted for new sanctions against it. It will prompt the West to impose new sanctions on Russia after the very probable failure of the Minsk-II. The United State has imposed new personal and sectoral sanctions against Russia on the next day of voting at the UN Security Council, which was a hint at more sanctions in future.
In July 2015, Russia used its UN veto power to block the resolution to recognize the incident in Srebrenica during the Bosnia War of 1995 as genocide. Actually, Russia used its veto power twice in a month and blocked the UN Security Council’s important resolutions on “humanitarian” problems. Immediately after voting on the resolution on tribunal for the Malaysian Boeing disaster, European media began blaming UN for failing to implement the humanitarian tasks and called for changes in the UN Statute concerning the veto power. Otherwise, they said, the expediency of the Security Council will become doubtful. The French had already suggested canceling the veto power in certain situations to let the Security Council pass decisions by majority of votes. Although the criticism of the veto power at the UN Security Council appears to be too general and abstract, there is a more fundamental problem behind it i.e. the aspiration of the United States to change the post-war world order and its attribute UN with its Security Council and the special status of the permanent members.
Among others, Russia’s veto on the draft resolution to set up an international tribunal on the Boeing 777 disaster may be used to strip Russia of its special status at the United Nations. This is just hypothetically in future and only in case Russia suffers defeat in the Ukrainian crisis.
In 2014, Russia’s authorities agreed on a hybrid war in Ukraine. Making such a choice, the Kremlin was to understand that it would have such inevitable consequences as fatal provocations. The Malaysian Boeing 777 disaster was one of those provocations. On July 20 2014, representatives of Russia’s Air Force held a briefing blaming the Ukrainian authorities for shooting down the Malaysian jet. However, it is obvious that U.S. and its allies will not accept any of Moscow’s alternative versions accusing Kiev of the Boeing crash. The draft resolution on “the international tribunal” looks to bring the top leadership of Russia, both the political and military one, responsible for a humanitarian disaster. Moreover, the Malaysian Boeing disaster case may become just episode in a series of other heavy political accusations against the top leadership of Russia.
The major goal of all the political processes around the Boeing 777 disaster is to create an atmosphere of estrangement around Russia. U.S. and its allies seek to damage the reputation of the Kremlin. The disaster is a brilliant opportunity to exert pressure on the Kremlin. They associate the disaster with such well-known disasters as the crashes of the Korean Airlines flight, KAL 007, in 1983, and explosion of Boeing 747-121 over Lockerbie, Scotland, on 21 December 1988.
It should be noted that the Malaysian Boeing disaster is covered in the Western media in the context other materials on the current “criminal” regime in Russia. The processes around the “international tribunal” are back with such reports as revision of Litvinenko’s case in London, the execution of the verdict on the Yukos case in Belgium and the start of the trial over Nadezhda Savchenko in Rostov. They call it another alleged fact of unlawful persecution by the “criminal judiciary” in Russia. It is obvious that in future, the issue of the “international tribunal” will become part of the information war against Russia.
In the long-term outlook, not everything is clear, but in the short-term one, it is evident that the West will use the issue of the tribunal to prove that Russia fails to implement the Minsk Agreements. The incident with the Malaysian Boeing remains a powerful factor of the West’s enmity and pressure on the top leadership of Russia in the ongoing “battle for Ukraine.”