Australia has circulated a draft UN Security Council resolution demanding that pro-Russian separatists provide “full and unfettered access” to the crash site of the downed Malaysian jet in eastern Ukraine.
The document – that could be put to a vote as early as Monday – also calls on everyone in the region to fully co-operate in an international probe of the incident.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was blown out of the sky on Thursday by what is believed to have been a surface-to-air missile, killing all 298 passengers and crew. Among the dead are 28 Australian citizens.
The draft resolution “demands that the armed groups in control of the crash site and the surrounding area refrain from any actions that may compromise the integrity of the crash site and immediately provide safe, secure, full and unfettered access to the site and surrounding area for the appropriate investigating authorities.”
While not mentioning Russia specifically, it “calls on all states and actors in the region to co-operate fully in relation to the international investigation of the incident, including with respect to immediate access to the crash site … in an effort to strengthen the safety of international civil aviation and to prevent any recurrence of such use of force against civilian aircraft.”
World leaders have demanded Russian President Vladimir Putin use his influence to persuade the rebels to hand over the victims and allow full access to the crash site.
Major European nations have warned Moscow of the possibility of additional sanctions over the crash.
The text also condemns the shooting down of the plane “in the strongest terms” and demands that those responsible be held to account while expressing serious concern that armed groups have “impeded immediate, safe, secure and unrestricted access to the crash site and surrounding area”.
On behalf of the 15-member Security Council, it also expresses grave concern at reports of “tampering with evidence related to the incident”.
On Friday, panel members, including Russia, demanded a full, independent probe of the downing.
Australia has asked that its 14 counterparts submit their comments on the measure by Monday morning.
Russia, a permanent member of the Council, has the power to veto the resolution should it come up for a vote.
One Western diplomat said it was difficult to know what the Russians would do, adding Moscow was under significant pressure.
The diplomat did not rule out the possibility that Russia could ask for more time to examine the text.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday it was “pretty clear that this is a system that was transferred from Russia in the hands of separatists”, while slamming as “grotesque” scenes at the crash site.