Key disappointed at Russia's MH17 veto

The United Nations Security Council (AAP)
The United Nations Security Council (AAP)

Russia's decision to veto the establishment of an international criminal tribunal to investigate the downing of MH17 is "disappointing" but not surprising to Prime Minister John Key.

The proposal for the tribunal was taken to the United Nations Security Council this morning (NZ time) and had been pushed by the Dutch, Australia, and most Western countries including New Zealand.

The Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down by suspected rebels over eastern Ukraine last year, killing all 298 people on board.

Eleven of the fifteen members of the council, on which New Zealand is chairing this month, voted for the tribunal, with Russia casting the lone 'no' vote. China, Venezuela and Angola abstained.

The council has five permanent members who each have the power of veto.

Mr Key said he was disappointed by the outcome because it would have allowed "accountability to take place".

"We knew [Russia was] likely to do with that, but the Foreign Minister [Murray McCully] had been spending quite some time with his Russian counterpart and others trying to see whether they would not exercise the veto but sadly they decided to do that.

"It's one of the fundamental flaws in the United Nations, really. It's a place of democracy and that likes, but it's not terribly democratic when the permanent five can exercise the veto on an issue as important as MH17."

Mr Key says New Zealand will continue to work with Australia and others on other possible ways to establish a tribunal, but doesn't believe it will be an easy process.

If another proposal were to end up before the Security Council, the outcome would likely be the same, he said.

Many of those on board the flight were from the Netherlands, while all the crew were from Malaysia. There were also 27 Australians on board as well as 10 people from the UK, and one New Zealander.

Passengers from a number of other countries including Belgium, Canada, Germany and the Philippines were also killed.

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