The head of the international monitoring group in Ukraine is hopeful unarmed Australian and Dutch police will be able to access the MH17 crash site and start retrieving bodies “within one or two days”.
OSCE chief monitor Ertugrul Apakan met with top Ukrainian officials in Kiev on Tuesday after the international policing mission was unable to reach the site for a third day running due to heavy shelling in the Donetsk region.
Mr Apakan said Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko had now “instructed all institutions to be helpful to the OSCE” special monitoring mission (SMM).
“He’s asking us to reach the crash site as soon as possible in order to remove the remnants of the bodies and carry out an investigation by the international taskforce,” the chief monitor told reporters in Kiev.
“There’s progress and we expect that the SMM will move to the crash site, with the international taskforce, within a short span of time, tomorrow or the other (next) day.
“We are working, if possible, within one or two days to be there.”
Mr Apakan said the OSCE was coordinating with all the parties on the ground including pro-Russia militants who have conceded they are losing territory to Ukrainian forces.
Acting Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, speaking alongside the OSCE chief monitor, said Ukraine was making continuous efforts to secure entry to the crash site “but we continuously encounter provocations”.
Mr Groysman said the president was making “every effort humanly possible to stop the provocations”.
“We have designed a clear-cut plan that will provide for our final entry,” the acting PM told reporters via a translator.
“We are in close co-operation with the Netherlands and our colleagues from Australia and other international partners.”
Mr Groysman is hopeful of some good news “in the forthcoming hours or maybe a day”.
He vowed there’d be no military action within a 20km exclusion zone and no shots would be fired “in the direction of the area where we will have some movements of the taskforce”.
The acting PM added: “We know that terrorists are still in control of the territory.”
Mr Groysman expects parliament on Thursday to ratify deals between Australia and the Netherlands and Ukraine regarding the humanitarian policing mission.
“This will enable the exercise of actions that will lead to a quicker investigation of what has happened,” he said on Tuesday afternoon.
The deployment agreements would allow Australia and the Netherlands to send in armed police or soldiers if required.