After Plane Downing, Australian PM Decries ‘Bullying of Small Countries by Big Ones’

By Patrick Goodenough | July 18, 2014 | 4:21 AM EDT

The Australian parliament in Canberra observes a moment of silence on Friday, July 18, 2014, in memory of the Australians and others killed when a Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine. (Screenshot: Australian Parliament)

( – Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott came close to accusing Russia of having a hand in the downing of a Malaysian Airlines plane over eastern Ukraine, and told lawmakers in Canberra Friday the Russian ambassador was being summoned.

“The Minister for Foreign Affairs will shortly summons the Russian ambassador to seek a categoric assurance from the ambassador that the Russian government will fully cooperate in this investigation,” Abbott said.

And in a clear allusion to Russia, he added: “The bullying of small countries by big ones, the trampling of justice and decency in the pursuit of national aggrandizement, and reckless indifference to human life, should have no place in our world.”

At least 27 Australians were among 298 people killed when flight MH17, bound from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over separatist-held territory in Ukraine on Thursday.

The Ukraine government has accused Moscow-backed separatists of carrying out the atrocity; Russian President Vladimir Putin said Kiev “bears responsibility.”

Abbott told parliament that the downing of the plane “looks less like an accident than a crime. I want to repeat this: as things stand, this looks less like an accident than a crime. If so, the perpetrators must be brought to justice.”

He said Australia would work at the U.N. Security Council – which is due to meets in New York on Friday morning to discuss the matter – to secure “a binding resolution calling for a full and impartial investigation with full access to the site, with full access to the debris, with full access to the black box [flight data recorder] and with full access to all individuals who might be in a position to shed light on this terrible event.”

Australia will hold a national day of mourning later this week, with national flags flying at half-staff on government buildings on Tuesday.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow