UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Malaysia has asked the United Nations Security Council to set up an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of downing a passenger airliner last year in eastern Ukraine, but Russia dismissed the move on Thursday as counterproductive.
Malaysia, a member of the 15-member council, distributed a draft resolution late on Wednesday, which it hoped could be adopted later this month, diplomats said. It is a joint proposal by Malaysia, Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ukraine.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down in July 2014 with 298 passengers on board, two-thirds of them Dutch. It crashed in territory held by Russian-backed separatists.
"It's counterproductive," said Russia's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Petr Iliichev. When asked if Russia would push back against the move, he said: "Yes."
Russia is a veto-wielding permanent member on the 15-member council, along with France, Britain, China and the United States, and therefore, it has the option of blocking the proposal if it is put to a vote.
Ukraine and Western countries accuse the rebels in eastern Ukraine of shooting down the plane with a Russian-made missile. But Moscow has rejected accusations it supplied the rebels with SA-11 Buk anti-aircraft missile systems.
The draft U.N. resolution, seen by Reuters, would "establish an international tribunal for the sole purpose of prosecuting persons responsible for crimes connected with the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17."
It says "that in the particular circumstances of this incident, the establishment of an international tribunal would be an effective guarantee for an independent and impartial accountability process."
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by G Crosse)