MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – Australia’s number one priority is getting access to the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine, rather than imposing further sanctions on Russia, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Wednesday as quoted by The Star.
"I am not saying that we might not, at some point in the future, move further," Abbott said. "But at the moment our focus is not on sanctions, our focus is on bringing home our dead as quickly as we humanly can."
Australia has not stopped attempting to gain access to the Boeing crash site, the prime minister stressed.
"If it doesn't happen today we will try again tomorrow, if it doesn't happen tomorrow we will try again the next day," Abbott said.
On Tuesday, a group consisting of Dutch and Australian specialists for the third time failed to reach the MH17 crash site near the city of Torez due to ongoing fighting in the region. Tony Abbot expressed concern over the armed conflict around the crash site, adding that “it’s not just the separatists, it’s the Ukrainian government as well.”
A total of 298 people, including 193 Dutch citizens and 27 Australians, died on July 17 as a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in Donetsk Region of Ukraine.
Kiev authorities and independence supporters have been trading blame for the downing of the plane, with independence supporters insisting they lacked the equipment to shoot down a target flying at an altitude of nearly 33,000 feet.
On Tuesday, the United States as well as the European Union announced new rounds of sanctions against Russia, once again accusing Moscow of supporting militia forces in eastern Ukraine.
The EU agreed to impose broader restrictions that limit access to EU capital markets for Russian state-owned financial institutions, impose an embargo on trade in arms, establish an export ban for dual-use goods for military end users, and curtail Russian access to sensitive technologies particularly in the oil and gas sector.
Washington introduced sanctions on three more Russian banks, namely VTB Group, the country's second-largest bank, Bank of Moscow and the Russian Agricultural Bank. The measure prohibits US citizens and companies from purchasing debt issued by the banks or their representatives carrying maturities longer than 90 days, or new equity. The US sanctions also target state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation.
Russia has repeatedly denied accusations that it was supplying the eastern militias with arms and called the "language of sanctions" counterproductive.