UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Ukraine's foreign minister said Thursday that the five countries investigating the downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine a year ago will try again to get U.N. Security Council approval for an international tribunal to prosecute the alleged perpetrators.
Pavlo Klimkin said in an interview with The Associated Press that a key Russian argument for vetoing the resolution to establish a tribunal on Wednesday was that it was premature and "untimely," because the results of the investigation aren't expected until October. So the five nations will try again for a tribunal then, he said.
The Russian mission to U.N. had no immediate comment on Klimkin's remarks.
Ukraine and the West suspect Flight MH17, traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was hit by a surface-to-air missile fired by Russian soldiers or Russia-backed separatist rebels on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board. Russia denies that.
Klimkin said the five countries — Ukraine, Malaysia, Australia, Netherlands and Belgium — believe an international tribunal is "the best option politically and legally" because it would be fully accountable, transparent and independent.
"We're not about to give up on that," Klimkin said. "In two months we will have the final and ultimate report, and what would Russia say in two months? We will definitely try again, with all kinds of support of (the) international community."
The account accepted by most Western government is that the plane was brought down by an SA-11 missile launcher — also known as a Buk. U.S. government officials have said the Russians might have provided technical help to the rebels to operate the system.
Klimkin noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin said SA-11 launchers could be bought on the open market. But he said: "I still can't imagine, and am deeply suspicious at any kind of possibility to buy a SA-11 complex there."
The minister called the downing of MH17 "a national tragedy" for all Ukrainians and stressed that a tribunal isn't about politics or "pinning down Russia," but about truth and justice for the victims and their families.
Klimkin said there are also other legal options to prosecute the perpetrators including a so-called hybrid tribunal which would require an agreement between participating states and the United Nations and Security Council approval, and national courts.
"So we can explore any kind of these areas in the future," he said.