Holding Russia Accountable for MH17
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Holding Russia Accountable for MH17
17 July @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Five years ago, on 17 July 2014, Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 individuals on board. Ever since, Russia has refused to cooperate with the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT), rejecting any suggestion that Russia was involved. Yet, there is overwhelming evidence that it was; last month, the JIT charged four men — three Russians and one Ukrainian — with murder, ramping up pressure on the Kremlin. The four men will be tried in a Dutch court beginning in March 2020.
By invitation of Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon MP, the Henry Jackson Society is delighted to welcome you to a discussion with Natalia Galibarenko, Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK, and Hon Alexander Downer, former Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and former Australian High Commissioner to the UK. Together with Sir Michael, they will discuss the initial international reaction to the downing of MH17, the extent to which the downing of MH17 contributed to a change in Western policy toward Russia, whether Russia is likely to cooperate with the Dutch court proceedings, and what the West can do to hold Russia to account.
Ambassador Natalia Galibarenko has been appointed as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland by the President of Ukraine and she is also a Permanent Representative to the IMO. Natalia Galibarenko participated in numerous bilateral and multilateral negotiations of Ukraine, including in the framework of the EU, OSCE and other international organizations. Her diplomatic rank is Envoy Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary 1st class. She holds a diploma from the Institute of International Relations, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.
Hon Alexander Downer is Executive Chair of the International School for Government at King’s College London. From 2014 to 2018, Mr Downer was Australian High Commissioner to the UK. Prior to this, he was Australia’s longest-serving Minister for Foreign Affairs, a role he held from 1996 to 2007. Mr Downer also served as Opposition Leader and leader of the Australian Liberal Party from 1994 to 1995 and was Member of the Australian Parliament for Mayo for over 20 years. In addition to a range of other political and diplomatic roles, he was Executive Director of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, in which he worked on peace talks between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. He is currently Chairman of the UK think tank Policy Exchange and a trustee of the International Crisis Group.
Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon MP was first elected MP for Sevenoaks in 1997. He was Secretary of State for Defence from July 2014 to November 2017 General Election. Formerly he served as Minister of State at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Minister of State at the Department for Energy and Climate Change.
On the 17th of July the Henry Jackson Society hosted a discussion entitled: ‘Holding Russia Responsible for MH17’. The panel consisted of Natalia Galibarenko, Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK, and Hon Alexander Downer, former Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and former Australian High Commissioner to the UK. The event was chaired by the Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon MP. Michael Fallon opened the event by noting that it was five years since the flight of MH17 and that it was important that this date be more than a memorial to the 298 British citizens who lost their lives, but that this was a milestone on the path to justice for those who died. He then went on to introduce Ukrainian Ambassador Natalia Galibarenko to speak.
Ambassador Galibarenko began by remarking that while this anniversary was tragic we at least could mark it with some good news. Five years on we now know the cause, the reason, the process, we know the perpetrators. She noted how striking it was that these five years since the attack have been full of lies spread by the Russian Federation and spread by Russian trolls on the internet, lies such as the attack having been staged by the West, but now these conspiracies can be put aside thanks to the enormous effort of the investigation team.
Now that we know the truth we must proceed to the next steps, not only with regards to the perpetrators who we can predict will probably never leave Russia, but also about the wider circle who shaped the plan and who gave the command. The good news is that we have legislative tools such as the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, which in theory means we can expect the Russian federation to co-operate, otherwise we must call on other international bodies to impose on Russia. In addition, the Dutch legislature foresees that the courts will not require the presence of those accused of the attack to present in court for the trial to go ahead.
Next to speak was Alexander Downer, who began by describing how in response to the MH17 attack, Australia prioritised first a rapid humanitarian response and then the implementation of international law through the UN Security Council. He also praised the joint investigation team for their efforts to establish the truth of the downing of the flight. This investigation, Downer argued, was ‘a very strong assertion of international law.’ Downer did concede however that despite the investigations progress it would still likely be very difficult to get the guilty into a courtroom.
Finally, Dr Andrew Foxall spoke. He began by stating he wanted to dispel the myth that the destruction of MH17 was in any way an accident, arguing that the strength of the joint investigation team’s work had been to establish the timeline of events that led to the attack, demonstrating conclusively the culpability of the Russian Federation. He then argued that MH17 was an extension to the outside world of behaviour that had long been evident within Russia’s borders, namely the Putin regime’s reckless disregard for human life.
The event then closed with a round of questions and answers.
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