‘Ukraine self-defense cooperate as intl experts arrive at MH17 crash site’

Despite the hurdles of checkpoints, self-defense forces provided cooperation and access to the Malaysia Airlines plane’s crash site, OSCE spokesperson for the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, Michael Bociurkiw, told RT.

RT:The US President has just voiced his concerns that the work of experts at the crash site is being hindered. Earlier the OSCE mission reported there was no longer interference. What is the situation on the ground now?

Michael Bociurkiw: We’ve been on the ground for four days now, although we’ve had the team here for three months. But, for four days we have been focused on the crash area. And from day one we were able to bring with us experts from the Ukrainian side - from the civil aviation department there. They seemed when we talked to them today, after three-four days on the ground quite pleased in terms of the area they were able to search for clues for what caused the crash. Also today, for the very first time, international experts came in and we facilitated their passage to the train station in Torez, about 10 or 15 km from the crash site, where the bodies were being stored in refrigerator cars. We also took them to some of the crash sites, to three or four of the eight major impact sites. And they were able to look at the situation there. Now, I want to be clear. These were forensic experts. They are not crash investigators from the Netherlands. But, again, we had fairly good access today, according to our discussions with them.

RT:What is OSCE doing at the plane crash, what is your mission?

MB: Probably this is the first time the OSCE has been drawn into being involved in a plane crash of this sort. Our mandate is clear: establish the facts and to report on them as we’ve been doing here for the past three months and also to facilitate dialogue. So, I think that second part - the facilitation of dialogue - and getting things to connect and getting people to move, especially our monitors from one place to another. That has been a result partially because of our long time here on the ground and the relationships that have been built up. The other thing of course is that in the absence of so much information, being able to go every day, collect what we see, report on it in a very neutral, objective way. And then that information goes out to 57 member states of the OSCE, including the Russian Federation, US, Ukraine and then to the general public. And in that void of information I think that’s played a big role.

Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and members of a forensic team visit the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region July 21, 2014 (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

RT:Why has it taken so long for international experts to arrive at the scene?

MB: Maybe I can best answer that by the process the Dutch investigators went through. I think it took them a day, a day-and-a-half to get here. There are logistical and security issues to address. Don’t forget that the crash scene is in the middle of conflict zone. And for example between here and the crash area, there are probably around ten checkpoints. So everything here takes time, you have to explain what you are going to do. It takes some negotiation. We've done a lot in the past four days, but there is a lot of work that is far, far better placed for others to do and it remains to be seen when the other experts will come here. I can tell you though that in the past hour or so we did bump into some, delegation if you will, from Malaysia. They’ve made it here and tomorrow we are expecting that they will want to go out to the crash site to begin their own investigation.

RT:Anti-government militia have promised cooperation, access to evidence to international experts. Is that promise being fulfilled?

RT: I can only say what our own mission experiences. As I alluded to earlier, we did have to go through quite a bit of logistical hurdles. But today was good in a sense that we did reach the area we needed to look at fairly quickly, we did have fairly good security. But, I must say, we have reported day after day is that there is no perimeter security around that crash site. It is a big area granted, there are many villages there and so on, but normally when a crash like this happens, one would expect the first thing is that a secured parameter would be established. That has not happened.