Interview with the Russian Ambassador to Malaysia about the MH17 Crash

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Photo Credit: Bernama

In an interview aired on BernamaTV Monday, the Russian Ambassador to Malaysia, Lyudmila G. Vorobyeva expressed her condolences to the families of the MH17 strike victims and spoke out about speculation surrounding Russian’s involvement in this tragic incident.

See Also: An Afternoon with the Russian Ambassador
Vorobyeva, who unexpectedly approached Bernama Today, wishing to express her thoughts and reactions to the MH17 disaster, began the interview with a heartfelt message to the families of victims. The Ambassador went on to say that she was “horrified” upon receiving the shocking news whilst amongst friends in the Foreign Ministry in Russia.
With the finger very much pointing at Russia, Madame Vorobyeva was eager to calm suspicions, urging that “there should be a very thorough investigation by the international commission”, something that the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has also called for in recent interviews. Her Excellency stressed that Russia has repeatedly called for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine and wishes for this tragic event to unite people in resolving the situation and preventing future incidents such as the MH17 attack.

Despite these words, the media has been circulating the opinion that it was Russia who provided rebels with the long-range surface-to-air missiles used to bring down MH17. In response to this comment, Ambassador Vorobyeva commented: “I’m not a military expert but I know that it’s a very sophisticated system that requires special training for the personnel to be able to use it.” There is no solid evidence that the rebels has access to such specialized equipment. However, Ukraine armed forces have used these kinds of systems in the past, for example in 2001, when a Russian aircraft was accidentally shot down by Ukraine forces while testing an S-200 surface-to-air missile.

The Ukraine Ambassador to Malaysia, Ihor V. Humeryyi, has openly attacked Russia, blaming them for the strike on the MAS airliner. Vorobyeva responded: “how can we blame anyone without an investigation and without facts?”
Problems in Ukraine began when a coup d’etat in Ukraine ousted President Viktor Yanukovych following allegations that his election was not legitimate and put in place a new government, not voted for by the majority. Madame Vorobyeva explained in the interview that the conflict in Ukraine is actually an internal disagreement between the government in Kiev and ethnic-Russians, called Pro-Russian rebels by the Western media, who are not happy with the policy of the government. She compared the demographic of Ukraine to that of Malaysia where there are people of Malay, Chinese and Indian heritage amongst other, but all are citizens of Malaysia.
There is no history of problems between Malaysia and Russia. However, in the light of this disaster, people are beginning to question the relationship between the two countries. Madame Vorobyeva stressed that relations between Malaysia and Russia have been developing positively in recent years, with good trade and an active political dialogue. The Russian embassy itself has been very involved in helping families of crash victims. In one example, the embassy helped the a Malaysian man find the belongings of his wife and child by translating a message sent from an iPad containing contact information of a young girl in Russia who had found his child’s rucksack.

*Update*: Bodies and Black Boxes from MH17 Crash Site Handed Over to Officials
Collecting the bodies of families’ loved-ones is a priority at the time. However, up until now Malaysian teams have been denied access to the crash site as they wait for the Kiev government to put in place all necessary security measures. Hope is that the wait shouldn’t be too long; Ambassador Vorobyeva reassured the Malaysian public that the rebels in Ukraine are cooperating with foreign and international missions. Once the Kiev government also cooperates, Malaysian authorities shouldn’t have a problem to enter the crash site. In talks between President Putin and the Prime Minister of Malaysia Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, the Russian President stated that “Russia will do what is possible to assist in helping the families of the victims of this tragedy. But it happened on the territory of Ukraine. And our influence on the situation is not that strong.”
In a final comment, Ambassador Vorobyeva assured Malaysians of the Russian embassy’s good intentions, saying: “we will cooperate with the Malaysia government fully and we will do all we can to assist Malaysia in these hard times.”

Read the full interview here.

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