MH17: 'coalition of the grieving' to secure crash site

Last updated 12:07 25/07/2014
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GRIM TASK: Malaysian air crash investigator works at a crash site of MH17.

MH17 crash site
Reuters
CHAOTIC: International teams say they are still finding pieces of the downed plane and human remains at the site.

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A five-nation "coalition of the grieving" is expected to supply the forces to secure the 50-square-kilometre crash site of Malaysia Airlines' downed MH17.

It cames as teams already working at the site announced they had found a large, intact piece of fuselage from the plane near the crash site - the biggest so far - as well as more human remains.

The multinational force is expected to be led by the Dutch, who lost 193 nationals in the bringing down of the plane, while Australia could serve in the deputy role.

Malaysia, Germany and Britain are the other three nations that are expected to contribute to the security force, with Malaysia having lost 43 people in the tragedy.

Security forces from the Netherlands and Australia worked closely together for years in Oruzgan province, Afghanistan.

Germany and Britain are said to be in discussions about the nature and composition of the forces they would look to send to the site, which lies deep in rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is in Ukraine and working on a memorandum of understanding with Dutch and Ukrainian authorities that would permit a multi-national force to secure the site.

The force is being put together in negotiation with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which has people on the ground at the crash site.

Ten British citizens and four Germans were among the passengers on MH17.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron has been sharply critical of Russia, telling Vladimir Putin in a phone call that the Russian President "must change course and work to bring stability to eastern Ukraine", according to a British spokesman.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has said that "Russia is responsible for what is happening in Ukraine at the moment".

Like the Netherlands, Britain and Germany are members of the NATO alliance with the US.

International officials said the United States said that it was prepared to contribute if asked, but the Dutch and Australians have decided not to ask for an American contribution.

Fifty Australian federal police have been pre-deployed to London in expectation that they would be sent to the crash site as part of a force operating under UN authority.

The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf has flagged the possibility that members of that country's airborne brigade could be deployed alongside military police.

And Volksrant reported the Dutch government was "seriously considering" a group of soldiers and policemen, on condition the group is part of a multi-national force.

And overnight, news wire Agence France Presse reported that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said 40 unarmed Dutch police would be sent to the crash site to stabilise the area.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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