Australia: Priority on bringing MH17 dead home, not sanctions

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Australia’s priority was gaining access to the crash site of downed Flight MH17 in Ukraine, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Wednesday, not imposing sanctions on Russia.

Yesterday, the United States and Europe announced tough new sanctions targeting Russia’s key financial, arms and energy sectors. Their move was in response to Moscow’s intervention in the Ukraine crisis.

But Australia said it already had some sanctions, such as imposing travel bans and targeted financial sanctions, in place after tensions rose in March.

“I am not saying that we might not, at some point in the future, move further,” Abbott told reporters.

“But at the moment our focus is not on sanctions, our focus is on bringing home our dead as quickly as we humanly can.”

No-go again

Abbott’s comment came after fighting once again prevented international investigators from reaching the MH17 crash site for the third day.

More than 200 bodies have already been removed from the site. But a Dutch and Australian police mission wants to recover the remains of those victims still lying in the fields.

 Members of the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry carry a body at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the settlement of Grabovo

“We certainly want to have another go today to get access to the site,” Abbott said.

“If it doesn’t happen today we will try again tomorrow, if it doesn’t happen tomorrow we will try again the next day.”

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was apparently shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17.

The Netherlands and Australia were home to most of the citizens on the flight, which the West alleged was brought down by separatist rebels.