Russia’s representatives in New Zealand have been hauled before the foreign ministry to hear the Government’s deep concern over the lack of access to the MH17 crash site.
Russia’s ambassador Valery Yakovlevich Tereshchenko currently out of the country, so the charge d’affaires met with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade staff today.
They reiterated Prime Minister John Key's call for Russian president Vladimir Putin to force Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine to allow an investigation into who brought the plane down.
Almost 300 people were killed, including some with New Zealand connections, when the plane was shot down over Ukraine last week, with pro-Russian separatists being blamed for the atrocity and for hampering the investigation.
Key echoed comments made by a number of world leaders in reiterating his call for Putin to use his influence over the rebels to allow the investigation to get under way, saying the situation was “deeply concerning” and “totally unacceptable”.
“You've had 298 families who have had their lives ripped apart having lost one of their loved ones, and at an absolute bare minimum they're entitled to a proper full inquiry and that inquiry can’t take place, and a fair inquiry won't be able to take place until access to that site is allowed,” he said.
“Essentially, while the rebels continue to control that area then a proper inquiry can’t be undertaken.
"Those rebels are essentially pro-Russian rebels so there’s only one person who can really exert authority over them - and that’s Vladimir Putin.”
Key said he wanted to see a full inquiry to allow the people responsible to be held to account.
Key said the world was “losing faith” that a proper investigation would be carried out, though he did not support foreign troops being moved into the area to secure it.
“What you’d really be saying is that an international force would be going into what is essentially a rebel-controlled civil war zone and that is challenging at the best of times. In reality, diplomacy has to rule here.
‘‘It’s going to be very difficult for an international force to go into a rebel-controlled area without putting themselves in a direct line of fire.”