PETALING JAYA - Russia has assured Malaysia of its assistance in ensuring safe passage for international teams to re-enter the MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine once the conditions there have improved.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said his counterpart Army General Sergei Shoigu had given him the assurance.
"I have requested for Russia's assistance to ensure safe passage for the international team to re-enter the crash site.
"Shoigu explained that the situation at the site is still unstable but assured assistance once the conditions have improved.
"Given the short timeframe that we are working with as winter is fast approaching, his assurance on this matter is very much appreciated," he said in a statement yesterday.
Hishammuddin, who was in Russia in a bid to expedite the investigators' return to the crash site, said both countries would work together to bring the perpetrators of the MH17 incident to justice.
"We also discussed bilateral relations, particularly on enhancing military cooperation between Malaysia and Russia," he said, adding that he had also met Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoriy Borisovich Karasin, who was very supportive of efforts to negotiate for early safe passage.
"Karasin also pledged to continue rendering support and assistance to Malaysia where needed. Both Karasin and myself also agreed on the need for the MH17 investigations to be conducted impartially and in complete transparency," he said.
Hishammuddin's working trip also brought him to the Netherlands yesterday where he was scheduled to meet his Dutch counterpart Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert.
"We will continue discussions regarding cooperation on the investigation as well as promoting defence exchanges between Malaysia and the Netherlands," he said.
Hishammuddin said he hoped that all stakeholders in the MH17 incident could put aside any other consideration they might have and focus all their efforts in continuing to search for and recover the remaining victims and debris.
"The first and second leg of our mission to Ukraine and Russia has been very constructive, especially in being inclusive and bringing on board all stakeholders.
"I am quite confident that we will receive the same response and commitment from our counterparts in the Netherlands," he said.
In Putrajaya, Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the crash site was still unsafe for international investigation teams.
The 30-men police investigating team, which left for Ukraine on Monday, had remained in Kiev as there were not yet signs that the site was "safe enough" for entry, he said.
Dr Ahmad Zahid told reporters after the ministry's monthly staff gathering that the team would wait for a "suitable moment" to enter the site.