Security Council met today in an emergency session about the MH17 disaster. The meeting offered a first glimpse of the potential diplomatic fallout of this crisis.
The UK and USA issued somewhat aggressive statements alleging that Russian-backed separatists were responsible for the downing of the plane. For her part, Ambassador Power presented a great deal of mostly circumstantial evidence to suggest that only Russian-backed separatists could be responsible for this. She called for a full independent international investigation into the crash. The UK and other Security Council members echoed this call.
For its part, Russia placed ultimate blame on the government in Kyev, saying they set the conditions under which a tragedy like this could have occurred. That was not surprising.
Ahead of the meeting the Security Council issued a consensus press statement calling for a “full, thorough and independent international investigation” of the incident. A key question going forward will be to what extent will investigators from the International Civil Aviation Authority and other international agencies have unfettered access to the crash site? Right now, the site is under the control of Russian-backed separatists. Will Russia or their proxies let UN investigators access the site? Will they cooperate with the investigation? Under normal circumstances, if a country violates the will of a Security Council statement, the next step would be a legally binding Security Council resolution. But that would probably be a non-starter for Moscow.
So, from the perspective of the Security Council there is a lot riding on whether or not international investigators will be able to access the site and conduct a thorough investigation without much interference by Russia and Ukraine.