UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council will vote Monday on an Australia-proposed resolution demanding international access to the Ukraine plane crash site and a cease-fire around the area, with diplomats pressuring a reluctant Russia to approve it.
Diplomats held consultations late Sunday until past midnight to work out differences between Australia and Russia, which has the power to veto the resolution as a permanent council member. The diplomats emerged cautiously optimistic that a resolution would be approved, but Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin would not guarantee it.
“It was a worthwhile session, so let’s see what the result is going to be tomorrow,” Churkin told reporters.
Earlier, Churkin said Russia is concerned the draft “does not accurately reflect the need for an impartial, international investigation.” He said Russia is proposing that the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency, take the lead in the investigation. The current proposal welcomes “the decision by ICAO to send a team to assist” Ukrainian investigators.
Council ambassadors did not say whether an agreement was reached on that point.
However, one diplomat said no substantial changes were made to the draft Sunday evening. The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the private negotiations, said diplomats believed that Russia was leaning toward approving the resolution, even though only minor changes were made.
In Canberra, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said his country would view a Russian veto of the resolution “very badly,” adding that “no reasonable person” could object to its wording.
“Given the almost certain culpability of the Russian-backed rebels in the downing of the aircraft, having these people in control of the site is a little like leaving criminals in control of a crime scene,” Abbott said.
The United States has presented what it called “powerful” evidence that the rebels shot down the plane with a Russian surface-to-air missile and training. Other governments have stopped short of accusing Russia of actually causing the crash.
Russian officials have blamed Ukraine’s government for creating the situation and atmosphere in which the plane was downed.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop tweeted Monday morning that she would meet with other ambassadors at U.N. headquarters ahead of the vote. Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans and U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power also met Monday morning, Dutch Ambassador Karel van Oosterom tweeted.
The resolution calls for pro-Russia separatists to allow access to the site of the downed Malaysia Airlines passenger jet carrying 298 people, including 37 Australian citizens and residents. It asks for the full cooperation of all countries in the region, including Russia. France, Lithuania, Germany and Britain are co-sponsoring it.
British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant he hoped the vote “would be unanimous” in favor of the resolution. Earlier, he accused Russia of proposing one amendment after another to delay passage of the resolution.
“It looks like a typical Russian delay in tactics, and one can guess why they want delay,” Lyall Grant told reporters.
Emerging from the U.N. meeting, both U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power and Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi said “hope so” when asked if there was agreement on the resolution.
The resolution also demands that armed groups who control the crash site do not disturb debris, belongings or victims’ remains.
Churkin said Russia had proposed “a cease-fire around the crash site” and that Australia had accepted that idea. He did not say how large the cease-fire area would be.
Earlier, Abbott said Russian President Vladimir Putin “said all the right things” during a telephone conversation about ensuring an international investigation into the disaster.