An Australian MP has apologised for suggesting that the United States should “slightly look over” Russia’s role in the downing of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in order to maintain good relations between the superpowers.
According to a Thursday report by The Guardian, Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly told Radio National, “If my comments were taken out of context and have been blown up I certainly apologise to everyone.
“However, what a disappointment that people have taken my comments and actually taken advantage for political reasons to blow them up, and have caused additional pain to those families.”
Kelly insisted that he has no reservations condemning Russia for its role in the incident, but maintained that his comments were taken out of context.
A day prior, he was reported as saying that overlooking Russia’s involvement is the price that must be paid to maintain good relations with the country.
“So what is best for the continued future of the world – and it is best in my opinion that the leader of the US and the leader of Russia at least have a good talking relationship.
“And if that means some of the things that Russia has gotten away with in the past has to be slightly looked over, well, I am sorry. That is the price we have to pay, sometimes, to have good relations going forward.”
When asked how his comments had been taken out of context, he said the MH17 incident should only be overlooked to the extent necessary for US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to have a good working relationship.
He denied, however, that his comments amounted to absolving Russia of responsibility.
Flight MH17 was shot down on July 17, 2014 while flying over Ukrainian territory that was held by pro-Russian separatists, killing all 298 people on board.
A team of investigators from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and Ukraine had identified the weapon that brought down the aircraft as a surface-to-air missile fired from a launcher belonging to Russian Army’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade.
However, it said it is not yet ready to publicly identify individual suspect or to issue indictments.
Russia has consistently denied involvement in the incident.
Wisma Putra has affirmed that it remains resolute in seeking justice for the victims, which included 43 Malaysians and 27 Australians.