PM calls for ‘thorough’ inquiry into MH17

As the foreign ministry says no Danes were among the victims, Helle Thorning-Schmidt says the international community must reach agreement on how to hold the responsible parties accountable.

PM calls for 'thorough' inquiry into MH17
A woman cries as people lay flowers and light candles in front of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Kiev on Friday. Photo: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Scanpix

The Danish foreign ministry has said that it does not believe any Danes were on the Malaysia Airlines flight that crashed into eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all on board. 

A government official said that the foreign ministry had gone through flight MH17's passenger list and found no indications that there were Danish citizens aboard. Likewise, no one has contacted the ministry to report missing family members.

"We have worked closely with our ambassadors in the Netherlands, Ukraine and Malaysia to check all of the information and we have no reason to believe that there were Danes among the victims," Catherine Uttenthal of the foreign ministry's citizen services department (Borgerservice) told Danmarks Radio. 

The Boeing 777, travelling from Amsterdam Schiphol to Kuala Lumpur, was blown out of the sky at 10,000 metres, by what US officials claim was a Russian-made surface to air missile.

Malaysia Airlines on Friday afternoon released an updated list of the victims' nationalities. On board were 189 Dutch citizens, 44 Malaysians, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, nine British citizens, four Belgians, four Germans, three Filipinos, one Canadian and one New Zealander. 
PM calls for investigation
In a brief statement on Friday afternoon, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt called for an "thorough and independent" inquiry into the incident.
"From the Danish side, we completely support calls for a thorough and independent investigation to be carried out soon into the circumstances that led to this tragic incident," Thorning-Schmidt said. "We need the international community to discuss what consequences there should be and how to hold those responsible accountable."
CNN reported on Friday afternoon that a preliminary classified US intelligence analysis concluded that the missile that hit the passenger plane was most likely fired by pro-Russian separatists within Ukraine. 
Even if that is confirmed, analysts believe the EU is unlikely to toughen its stance towards Vladimir Putin.
Philippe Migault, an expert on Ukraine from the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS) in Paris, says there are too simply many economic interests at stake for Europe.
“France like other European countries will condemn the incident and demand an inquiry as well as an end to fighting in the region, but they won’t go much further,” Migault told The Local. “I don’t think we will see any major change.”
“There are just too many interests at stake. The Economic interests between the EU and Russia are just too great," he said. 

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Denmark: EU sanctions will ‘cost Putin dearly’

The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee calls the new sanctions against Russia 'a very hard attack' meant to send a clear message to the Russian president.

Denmark: EU sanctions will 'cost Putin dearly'
Vladimir Putin 'needs to understand it will cost him dearly', the foreign affairs committee chair said. Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev/Ria Novosti/Scanpix
The European Union imposed broad economic sanctions against Russia on Tuesday, hoping to force Moscow to reverse course in Ukraine.
Mette Gjerskov, the chairwoman of Denmark’s Foreign Affairs Committee (Udenrigspolitisk Nævn) said Russia was certain to feel the consequences of the EU action. 
“It is a very hard attack on Russia that the EU is now implementing these sanctions. Russia has not changed its course, so there was no way around it,” Gjerskov told Berlingske Nyhedsbureau. 
The new EU measures impose restrictions on the finance, defence and energy sectors so as to increase the cost to Russia of its continued intervention and support of pro-Moscow rebels in Ukraine. 
“These are targeted sanctions that will very seriously affect the Russians. It is simply necessary. Putin needs to understand that it will cost him and Russia dearly if he does not start behaving respectably in relation to the investigation of the passenger flight and the forward march in eastern Ukraine,” Gjerskov said. 
Up to now, the European Union has imposed asset freezes and visa bans targeted at people and entities — firms, utilities or local authorities — it believes to have stoked the Ukraine crisis or profited from it. 
Many EU countries, among them Germany and Italy, have major economic ties with Russia, which also supplies the bloc with a third of its gas needs, making it difficult for Brussels to follow Washington's lead and adopt more punishing sanctions on Moscow. 
However, the alleged shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 by pro-Moscow rebels using a Russian-made missile changed sentiment radically and pushed the idea of broader and tougher economic sanctions to the top of the EU agenda.