JULIE BISHOP: I have just met with Russian Ambassador Morozov. I told him that the Australian people and the Australian Government were devastated by the news that 28 Australians are now confirmed as having been killed in this tragic incident. I asked him for Russia’s explanation as to how a commercial plane could come down from that altitude over Eastern Ukraine. I asked that Russia give its unqualified support for a full, thorough, credible, international, independent investigation into the causes of the downing of this flight. I asked for Russia’s unqualified support for the United Nations Security Council resolutions that would facilitate such an investigation. I also sought Russia’s unqualified support in seeking a ceasefire so that the site can be secured, not only for the investigation but for consular purposes to retrieve the bodies and to retrieve the debris that may be relevant to the investigation.

JOURNALIST:[inaudible]

JULIE BISHOP: The Russian Ambassador provided that unqualified support. He referred to President Putin’s statement about this matter and he assured me that Russia would do what it could to find those responsible. I informed him that the international community would demand that those responsible for this incident be found and be held to account and he told me that he would go back and speak to Moscow again and pass on the statements that I’ve made.

JOURNALIST:Did he deny Russian involvement [inaudible]?

JULIE BISHOP: Yes, but he did say that they were not in a position to give details as to what may have occurred and that that’s why they were supporting an investigation of the type that I identified - an open, thorough, full, international, independent investigation.

JOURNALIST:So, did you directly ask him whether Russia was involved and he denied?

JULIE BISHOP: That’s right, I also asked him about whether Russian equipment, military weapons and the like or surface-to-air missiles could have been involved and he said not to his knowledge.

JOURNALIST:Did you ask about whether there were any Russian special forces on the ground in that area?

JULIE BISHOP: He didn’t go into the details. I was seeking his support for the UN Security Council resolutions. The UN Security Council will be holding an emergency meeting shortly in New York and we are looking for Russia, as a permanent member of the Security Council, we’re looking for their absolute and total support for resolutions that would be designed to facilitate an investigation and the ceasefire to enable the site to be secured for consular purposes as well as the investigation.

JOURNALIST:Did Vladimir Putin [inaudible] to the G20?

JULIE BISHOP: These are matters that I will discuss with our Prime Minister. Obviously our National Security Committee of Cabinet is considering this matter as it unfolds. Our first priority is to provide all the support we can to the families of the 28 Australians that we now know were killed in this incident. I have spoken to a number of foreign ministers and I have a number of phone calls lined up. I have asked to speak to the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and I hope to do that this evening.

JOURNALIST:Any news on the black box and where that is? 28, Foreign Minister, do fear that may rise any further?

JULIE BISHOP: I’m sorry can you…

JOURNALIST:28, do you fear that may rise even higher?

JULIE BISHOP: We are still checking passports against the manifest. The number could be higher but at this stage it’s confirmed at 28. It was 27 this morning. It has been confirmed at 28. I have also spoken to the New Zealand Foreign Minister. I am aware that there is a New Zealand national who was an Australian resident and so we are working through, country by country, to determine the nationality of those on board.

JOURNALIST:Can you give specifics on the 28, in terms of state?

JULIE BISHOP: There is information available state by state. The Prime Minister put that out. From recollection, nine were from Queensland, they were also from New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.

JOURNALIST:Will the Government be releasing the names of those 28?

JULIE BISHOP: As soon as we have been in touch with the families and friends and its appropriate to do so. We have of course adopted the usual emergency protocols that would take place in such an incident as this and so we will keep the public informed but of course our first priority must be with the families of those who have been killed in this tragic incident.

JOURNALIST:Sorry, excuse me Foreign Minister, are you satisfied with Vladimir Putin’s explanation so far? He said that it had occurred in Ukrainian airspace and therefore, it is Ukraine’s problem?

JULIE BISHOP: I understand it came down in Eastern Ukraine which is a separatist-held region, pro-Russian separatist area. What we’re calling for and what we intend to establish through the UN Security Council is an investigation that will get to the bottom of who is responsible for this unspeakable crime and that they be brought to account. We seek the support and full cooperation of Russia and Ukraine and the international community and that’s what we are focusing on at present. So our immediate priority is the families but we are also now seeking this thorough investigation to be established as soon as possible so that the site can be secured.

Thank you.

JOURNALIST:Could he confirm or deny that pro-Russian separatists were culpable?

JULIE BISHOP: He denied that.

Media enquiries

  • Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555