PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has described the convoy of heavily armed Russian warships cruising international waters towards Australia’s north as part of “freedom of navigation”.
The Prime Minister was adament his discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin to date had focused on responsibility over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
Asked whether he would bring up the warships with Mr Putin when he arrives in Australia for the G20, Mr Abbott said those discussions had “focused on a crime”.
“The downing of MH17, that’s a crime,” he said.
“Obviously the full circumstances are being investigated… but plainly at the very least a missile was fired with reckless indifference to the outcome.. to human life.
“Under our laws that’s manslaughter at the very least. But warships in international waters, that’s just part of freedom of navigation.”
Yet a senior government source last night said there was no doubt about Russia’s intentions.
“There is no doubt this is posturing, to show the power of the Russian fleet,” the source said.
Last night, Defence confirmed the Russian convoy, including at least one high powered missile cruiser, were sailing international waters to Australia’s north.
Defence is monitoring the fleet of four ships, which include a cruiser, a destroyer, a tug boat and a refueller, which were believed to be in the Coral Sea, south ofBougainville, Papua New Guinea on Wednesday evening.