International mission to secure MH17 site fraught with risks

(By Deutsche Welle) Australia and the Netherlands have decided against deploying troops to secure the MH17 crash site in Ukraine, opting instead to send an unarmed police team. But access to the site is difficult in an active war zone.

Dutch and Australian police called off an attempt to reach the wreckage of MH17 on Monday due to reports of explosions in the region, the second time they have been forced to turn back due to clashes near the site of the crash.

Initially, the Netherlands and Australia had contemplated sending an armed mission to secure the wreckage of the Malaysian airliner and retrieve human remains that have not yet been recovered. But Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called off the idea of an armed mission after a ceasefire negotiated with the rebels around the crash site fell through.

“We had the intention to send a unit of the air mobile brigade which was very lightly armed, so it’s not a real unit which would provoke hostilities,” Kees Homan, a retired major general with the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps, told DW.

“But as the fighting continued in the area, our prime minister then took the decision that a military unit for protection of the investigators was not a real option,” said Homan, who now works with the Netherlands Institute of International Relations.

Prime Minister Rutte had concluded that “there’s a real risk of such an international military mission becoming directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine.” Continue reading