Australia s woman of steel

Russia's hard-nosed Ambassador to the United Nations could not disguise his tears when told of the heartbreaking loss of three WA children aboard MH17.

Vitaly Churkin, who has been fiercely denying any Moscow involvement in the tragedy, choked up when told by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop about the deaths of Mo, Otis and Evie Maslin and their grandfather Nick Norris.

Ms Bishop revealed to The West Australian yesterday that a conversation she had with the Maslin children's devastated parents on Sunday had galvanised her resolve to seek justice for the 39 Australians among the 298 killed by a missile strike on the Malaysia Airlines' jet. She spoke to Anthony Maslin and Rin Norris while en route to the US where she led Australia's successful bid for a United Nations Security Council resolution ensuring an independent probe of the MH17 incident.


"I was sitting in the airport in Tokyo and Anthony put me on to his wife - it made me cry . . I'm doing it now," Ms Bishop said, her voice breaking. "It's just shocking. They were inconsolable."

Ms Bishop told Dr Churkin of the Maslins' grief when the Russian diplomat attempted to present alternative theories for why the plane had been downed in eastern Ukraine on Thursday.

"I have to tell you - and I'm not making this up - I told the story about the Maslins and even the Russian Ambassador, his eyes welled with tears and he looked away," she said.

Dr Churkin said he had children, too, before changing subject.

"I spoke to a number of families and I guess because I knew them and they were from my electorate and they were talking about the kids' school and I knew where they were talking about, I could envisage it all," Ms Bishop said.

"So it was pretty personal and I have to say every time somebody tries to put this in a geopolitical sense and suggest we were taking sides or questioning our motives, I'd take it back to the fact we're doing this for the families. We're doing this to bring them home."

Ms Bishop referenced the Maslins in her speech to the Security Council in New York.

"They had decided to stay on for only a couple of days while their three children - aged 12, 10 and eight - had to return to school in Australia, so they went on ahead with their grandfather on flight MH17," she said.

"Australia will continue to do everything we can to ensure this barbaric act is thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators are brought to justice."

Russia has denied supplying separatists with missiles believed responsible for the tragedy and has asserted that the plane could have been brought down by a Ukrainian jet or an SA11 missile captured by the rebels.

Ms Bishop is believed to have challenged Dr Churkin to produce satellite or air traffic evidence supporting Russia's theories.

A refrigerated train carrying the bodies of MH17 victims arrived in Ukrainian city Kharkiv last night, where it is expected to be met by Australian officials before the bodies are flown to the Netherlands.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Operation Bring Them Home would see the remains of Australian victims flown home on an RAAF C17.

Mr Abbott commended Ms Bishop for her efforts but there were doubts any international investigation would be able to prove conclusively who shot down MH17.

Rampant looting of the crash site and what Mr Abbott said was "evidence tampering on an industrial scale" were hampering investigations.

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save