The situation around the investigation of the Malaysian Airlines MH17 crash raises serious questions. The preliminary report conducted by Dutch experts under the agreement with Ukraine can hardly be considered a truly comprehensive, thorough, independent and international one, and does not shed light on the true causes of the tragedy. It is not informative and does not contain convincing data about the details of the crash. It does not lift our concerns and gives reasons for new questions to add to those formulated by the Russian Ministry for Defence in the aftermath of the incident. Full transcripts of air traffic control communications haven’t been published, no follow-up has been given to witnesses’ reports on another airplane seen in the sky at the time of the crash, Ukraine has shown no willingness to share full data on its anti-aircraft systems deployments.
Surprisingly, world mass media, including the British press, have virtually forgotten the issue, though most of those who died were Western nationals. It is in the interest of all to find and bring to justice those responsible through a comprehensive, independent and international investigation, as is required by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2166. There is a reason to believe that the real purpose of the investigation is not to determine the cause, but rather to make up a case that puts all the blame on and gives arguments for building-up sanctions against Russia. The delays in preparation and publication of the preliminary report point to a deliberate procrastination and soft-pedaling of the investigation process.
It is also disappointing that ICAO has adopted a passive position in relation to the investigation. A growing number of doubts arise as to the compliance by the investigation with the organisation’s norms and standards. It is regrettable that ICAO might be subject to outside political pressure. The initiative to convene a “task force of international experts” under the auspices of ICAO to assess risks for civil aviation in conflict areas, rather than focusing on establishing the truth in that particular case, seems to be another attempt to impose a biased and politicised version of the crash on the international community.
Russia insists that strict adherence to the UNSC resolution 2166 is the only way to a comprehensive, thorough and independent investigation of the crash. This resolution contains a list of problems that have to be solved in order to allow for a proper investigation. They include the cessation of violence as a basic condition, the preservation of the crash site, the provision of unhindered access thereto, role of ICAO in ensuring that the investigation meets international standards, etc. A detailed report by the UN Secretary-General on each of these matters should be submitted to the UN Security Council according the para 13 of the resolution with the view to taking additional measures to promote international investigation. We believe that it is highly important to enhance the role of the United Nations if the investigation process is to be credible. In this context, it is worth looking at a possibility of appointing a UN special envoy for MH17 crash probe and sending a mission to the crash site in collaboration with the OSCE, ICAO and other relevant organizations.
It is important to remember that this tragedy took place against the background of the attempt at a military solution of the Ukrainian crisis. That is why it is incumbent upon the parties to the conflict to transform the current ceasefire into a permanent one to set up a peaceful negotiation process on the basis of the Geneva statement of 17 April and the Berlin Declaration of 2 July.