Iran has admitted that it did shoot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, despite initially claiming it wasn’t responsible. After evidence was presented by way of video footage, the Iranian authorities said that the shooting was “unintentional”.
Hassan Rouhani, said in a statement:
“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake. My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences.”
The airline had previously said in a statement:
“We express profound sympathy to the families and friends of the victims. We share your pain, we mourn together with you, and we remember everyone whose life was taken away in the sky of Iran. We’ll make every effort to find out the cause of the tragedy and the families of the passengers and crew get all the help and support they need.”
Following the admission of responsibility from the Iranian Government, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the President of Ukraine, said that his country must be allowed to jointly investigate the incident.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has spoken today to Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine. They discussed matters of interest to the two nations, including Brexit, Russia and international security.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said in a statement:
“President Zelenskyy thanked the Prime Minister for his unwavering and unflinching support for the people and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The Prime Minister reiterated that he would not yield on the issue of Ukrainian sovereignty, and gave his full support to President Zelenskyy in his efforts to end the conflict in the Donbas.
The Prime Minister underlined his message in Berlin yesterday: Russia’s readmission to the G7 and to the wider international community should not be considered until they have stopped their destabilising behaviour. He pointed to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and last year’s chemical attack on the streets of Salisbury as clear examples.”
Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, has made a statement on the fifth anniversary of the downing of flight MH17. He confirmed that the UK would support the financing of the trial at the Hague and will provide other ongoing assistance.
The Foreign Secretary said:
“A terrible tragedy took place five years ago today when flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine. 298 innocent people, including 10 British people, lost their lives. I offer my deepest condolences to the families and friends of all those who died.
I support the efforts of the Joint Investigation Team and the Dutch authorities to deliver justice for those who died. This is why we are making a financial contribution of £100,000 to the establishment of the specialist criminal court in the Hague to help ensure that the families and friends of the victims receive answers, and that those responsible are held to account for this appalling crime.
We continue to support Australia and the Netherlands in their call on the Russian government to accept state responsibility for the downing of flight MH17. It is high time Russia cooperated fully with the prosecution and, in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2166, provided any assistance requested.”
Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, has said that the British Government welcomes moves by the European Union, Australia, Canada and the United States against Russian aggression in Ukraine. There will also be EU sanctions imposed against a number of Russian individuals in an attempt to put pressure on Vladimir Putin, the Russian President.
Hunt said in a statement:
“Today, the UK and our international partners in the EU, Australia, Canada and the US have sent an unequivocal message to Russia that their attack on Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait and Black Sea last year was absolutely unacceptable. These sanctions are another example of the international community standing up to Russia as it persistently violates international law. We will continue to take necessary action together in response to Russia’s efforts to destabilise Ukraine.
Russia must immediately release the 24 detained servicemen and return the seized vessels. We remain deeply concerned for the safety and welfare of the servicemen who are unjustly held in Russian custody. Russia must allow free and unhindered passage of Ukrainian and international ships through the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov. We, with our international partners, stand with Ukraine in opposing Russia’s ongoing efforts to undermine Ukrainian security, sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The British Government has said that it will back the US Government’s declaration which condemned the Russian annexation of the Crimea.
A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said:
“The UK echoes the United States’ firm statement of opposition to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. The UK position is clear: we condemn Russia’s continued breach of international law; Crimea is Ukrainian territory. We remain fully committed to upholding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.
The UK also remains deeply concerned by the human rights situation in Crimea, where we have seen the systematic persecution of minority groups and of those who voice their opposition to Russia’s illegal annexation of the territory. We call again for Russia to release all Ukrainian political prisoners held in Crimea and in Russia, and to allow unrestrained access for international human rights monitoring bodies to the peninsula”.
David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has issued a statement on the Malaysian Airlines MH17 aircraft crash on 17 July 2014. Commenting after the release of a Dutch investigation into the crash the Prime Minister said:
“We have always been clear that justice must be done for all of the victims of MH17 and today’s report brings us one step closer to establishing the truth. We, alongside our partners, will continue to send a clear message: those responsible for downing this plane will be held to account”.
The aircraft is thought to have been brought down by Russian backed separatists. 283 passengers and 15 crew were all killed in the attack on the Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur service.
David Lidington, the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has called for a ceasefire to be called in Ukraine.
Speaking at the Luxembourg summit of EU Foreign Ministers he said:
“On the first anniversary of the Minsk Protocol, it is as important as ever that both sides implement a lasting ceasefire. Throughout the last year we have seen repeated violations of the ceasefire and repeated obstruction of the work of the OSCE monitoring mission. The withdrawal of heavy weapons that has been agreed must actually take place, and the OSCE monitors must be given full and secure access to carry out their crucial role. Russia must stop providing arms and equipment to separatist forces and must withdraw its own forces from eastern Ukraine. Without such steps, the appalling suffering of ordinary Ukrainians living in the Donbas will continue.
The Minsk agreements are not just a ceasefire. They are designed to allow Ukraine to regain control of its territory and border. They provide the path to a political resolution of the current crisis. I welcome the progress that Ukraine has made in recent weeks to take forward challenging and vital constitutional reform, including decentralisation. I hope that soon we will see local elections in the separatist-controlled areas of the Donbas. These must be held in line with Ukrainian legislation and in line with OSCE standards and with OSCE/ODIHR observation, as set out in the Minsk agreement. Any elections that do not meet these standards will be illegitimate, and likely to cause further instability.
The weeks ahead will be testing. I welcome the political commitment shown by the Government of Ukraine to implement the Minsk agreement. It is important that MPs and wider Ukrainian society continue to debate these and other critically important issues for Ukraine’s future openly, honestly and peacefully. There must be no repeat of the deplorable violence outside the Rada on 31 August. I urge all sides to engage constructively in the Trilateral Contact Group to ensure progress on the ground”.