MH17 tribunal idea is 'counterproductive': Russian official

Toys are pictured amongst the wreckage at the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 near the village of Grabove, in Ukraine's Donetsk region on July 20, 2014 (AFP Photo/Bulent Kilic) (AFP/File)

Moscow (AFP) - A senior Russian official on Friday rejected calls for the establishment of a UN tribunal to try those responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine last year.

"We are against it," deputy foreign minister Gennadiy Gatilov was reported by Russian news agencies as saying. "We think it is not timely and counterproductive."

The Netherlands, Malaysia and three other countries want a UN tribunal to investigate the July 2014 crash, which killed all 298 people passengers and crew.

The Boeing 777 passenger jet was travelling between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down in eastern Ukraine, during some of the worst fighting between government forces and pro-Russian separatists who took up arms against Kiev's pro-Western government a few months earlier.

Suspicions immediately fell on the separatists, who may have used a surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia to shoot down the plane.

But Moscow flatly denied it was involved and pointed a finger instead at Ukraine's military.

The five countries of the Joint Investigation Team -- Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine -- met last week in New York to discuss the proposed international tribunal.

Gatilov said the investigation should be completed before any further steps are taken.

"Now we must wait until the end of the investigation rather than adopt hasty resolutions on creating a tribunal," he said, adding that "the issue is very sensitive and serious and must be thoroughly studied."