World News – AU – Russia joins China in attacking Australia over war crimes report in Afghanistan


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Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks of a « repulsive » false image of an Australian soldier tweeted by the Chinese government

Russia says Australia’s commitment to a rules-based world order cannot be taken seriously after damning results of suspected war crimes were published by special forces in Afghanistan.

The ABC recently uncovered comments from the Russian Foreign Ministry alleging that Australian soldiers accused of murdering civilians and prisoners would not be « held accountable ». .

Earlier this month, Angus Campbell, chief of the Australian Defense Forces, released the Brereton report, which found that special forces had committed at least 39 unlawful murders during the war in Afghanistan.

« This is a really shocking report, » Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in prepared remarks at a press conference held in Russian late last week.

« The circumstances really make us doubt the real ability of the Australian authorities to actually hold all soldiers guilty of such crimes to justice. « 

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman alleged that Australia’s credibility on the world stage had been shaken by the revelations.

« It makes us reevaluate the true meaning of Canberra’s official line to protect the rules-based world order, » said Ms. Zakharova.

The SAS soldiers have been held up as heroes, but a small number of them are charged with the most heinous crimes, including the murder of innocent people, writes Mark Willacy.

Russia’s comments came just hours after the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s similar attack on Australia over the findings of the Brereton report.

« The facts revealed in this report have fully exposed the hypocrisy of ‘human rights’ and ‘freedom’ that these Western countries always sing, » Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Friday.

Diplomatic relations between Australia and Russia have been particularly strained since the crash of a Malaysian Airlines flight carrying 298 passengers over Ukraine in 2014.

Last month, Moscow pulled out of talks with Australia and the Netherlands, accusing both countries of not wanting to find out what really happened when MH17 was shot down by a Russian-made missile that pro- was fired by Russian rebels.

Peter Jennings, Executive Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, called the Russian government’s recent comments « the height of hypocrisy ». .

« This is the Russia that was murderously responsible for shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, invading Crimea and supporting [President Bashar al-] Assad in Syria, » he said.

« Hearing these comments from the Russian Foreign Ministry only tells me the level of hypocrisy the Russians are prepared to be in their ongoing attack on Western democracies. « 

Trade Secretary Simon Birmingham said Australia’s review of special forces operations had demonstrated accountability and transparency « sorely lacking in a number of other countries ». . He refused to single out Russia.

This service may contain material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service that is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced.

AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time, 10 hours before GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

Australian Forces, China, Australia, Angus Campbell

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