Press release – MH17 crash: MEPs call for solidarity with Ukraine and sanctions against Russia – Committee on Foreign Affairs

EU sanctions against Russia must be stepped up, the Ukrainian border closed to halt arms flows from Russia, and the bodies of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash victims returned, MEPs insisted in today’s debate with Ukraine’s foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin. Mr Klimkin called on the EU to show its solidarity now, as Ukraine is “being punished for its EU aspirations”. The debate opened with a minute’s silence for victims of the 17 July crash.

Mr Klimkin stressed that the MH17 crash was not just an incident but a “vicious narrative” for the whole of Europe. “Before we were talking about self-defence of inhabitants of eastern Ukraine, whereas now it’s clear that we are dealing with Russian-backed terrorists”, he said. The Ukraine government is ready to engage in discussion with “the real people of Donetsk”, but “the Russian terrorists have to go back to Russia”, he added.

The EU must send a clear message of solidarity with and support for Ukraine, which he said was now “being punished for its EU aspirations”, and strengthen the EU presence on the ground by deploying a Common Security and Defence Policy mission, he urged.

“Ukraine’s security services should have full control over the border to ensure that the flow of arms from Russia can be dried up” said Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Elmar Brok (EPP, DE). He added that the actions of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin left open no “possibility of finding a political solution” and that the EU should therefore proceed with much stronger sanctions against Russia.

MEPs called for a united line between EU member states on tougher sanctions towards Russia, not as a consequence of the plane crash, but in reaction to the Russian authorities’ unwillingness to control the flow of arms and heavy weapons across the border to the eastern regions of Ukraine.

Some also criticized France for training Russian solidiers, given that hundreds of Dutch people had lost their lives in the plane crash. “My government will not stop until justice is done”, said Dutch Ambassador Peter De Gooijer, who also spoke at the meeting. He stressed that his government’s first priority was to have the victims’ bodies returned home and then to conduct an independent investigation. He deplored the disrespectful way in which the bodies of the victims had been treated and said that this would not be forgotten by the Dutch people.

Re-watch the debate via EP Live (link to the rigth).