British Ambassador to Ukraine: “MH17 Tragedy — Act of Violence in the Context of Russian Aggression”


Kyiv, July 25, 2014. The British Foreign Ministry emphasized Russia’s role in the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash and said that Britain would continue to raise the costs of Russia’s de-stabilization of Ukraine. Such was the statement made by the British Ambassador to Ukraine, Simon Smith during his press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. He also mentioned that the shoot down of MH17 is a horrific tragedy, and that “there are grieving friends and families for each of the victims, whose lives have been lost and future stolen.”

“It is clear for the Government of Great Britain that this [tragedy] is an act of violence in context of continual aggression from Russia toward Ukraine,” said Ambassador Smith, reiterating the British government’s official position on the MH17 tragedy and the Ukrainian crisis.  “We are not seeing enough efforts from Russia to deescalate the situation in eastern Ukraine, it means we ready to do more,” he added.

The UK ambassador stated that despite the best efforts of Ukrainian authorities, the British government is extremely disturbed that access to the site by forensic experts and other investigators is still significantly impeded by pro-Russian militants. Although stressing the need for a comprehensive investigation, Mr. Smith claimed that there is ever increasing evidence that Russian-supported militants in eastern Ukraine are responsible for the disaster. “Evidence continues to point strongly that this accident was caused by a surface-to-air missiles fired from an area under the control of separatist militants,” he said. Troop movements, the presence of relevant weapons systems in militant-controlled regions, photographic evidence, and the interception of communications between militants all support the hypothesis that Russian-supported fighters are the perpetrators of the tragedy. Ambassador Smith stated that the Russian Federation has made little to no efforts to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine.

Mr. Smith said that the British government is “not seeing from Russia what we very simply asked for,” which are concrete efforts to deescalate the situation and help stabilize Ukraine. Smith pushed back at the notion that the British government hasn’t done enough to discourage Russian aggression, even while conceding that delays have diluted the efficacy of the European response.

Contrary to some reports, Smith claims that Britain does not currently export arms to Russia. The British government supports the continued strengthening of sanctions against Russia if it continues to de-stabilize Ukraine. He claimed that these sanctions need to be applied progressively, rather than all at once, so that Russia can understand the costs of its behavior. Smith concluded that in the absence of policy changes from Moscow, the European policy of sanctions will continue unabated in order to raise the costs of Russian aggression.