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PM Tony Abbott deploys troops to eastern Ukraine to protect Australian Federal Police officers ^ | July 16, 2014 | SIMON BENSON AND JACQUELIN MAGNAY

Posted on 07/25/2014 12:36:45 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has ­confirmed troops will be deployed to eastern Ukraine to protect Australian Federal Police officers working on the crash site investigation.

The Saturday Telegraph understands they will be deployed through the ­United Arab Emirates, which was the operating base for Australian ­deployments to Afghanistan.

Another 100 AFP officers are flying to Ukraine today to join 90 of their ­colleagues already deployed to Europe under a Dutch-led investigation.

Mr Abbott said the AFP officers, some of whom would be armed, would be entering the crash site under the protection of Australian soldiers.

A number of troops are already in Ukraine to guard Mr Abbott’s special envoy Angus Houston.

“This is a police-led mission, and it’s a humanitarian mission to bring (the crash victims’ bodies) back,” he said.

It will be the largest deployment of AFP officers overseas since the Bali bombing in 2002.

In a surprising development yesterday, the left-leaning Novaya Gazeta Russian newspaper published a highly provocative apology, written in Dutch and splashed across its front page.

The paper has deviated from the ­official line coming out of the Kremlin by attributing the source of the attack on MH17 to the Russian separatists.

“Forgive Us, Netherlands,’’ was the bold headline.

The paper is highly regarded for its critical coverage of Russian politics, but this has come at a heavy price with four journalists murdered since 2001.

Also yesterday, Governor-General Peter Cosgrove said he had begun contacting the “brave but devastated’’ families of the victims of MH17 to express the condolences of the Australian people.

He also laid a wreath for Australian families at the makeshift memorial at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.

Spontaneously he hugged two young Dutch boys who were among hundreds paying their respects. Sir Peter told the boys they were now part-Australian as he handed them some wattle sprigs and invited them to visit.

The Queen also offered her formal condolences to Australian families ­yesterday. In a letter to the Governor-General she wrote: “Philip and I have been deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life following the crash of the ­Malaysia Airlines aircraft in Ukraine.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Australia, which has ­suffered such a devastating loss.”

TOPICS: Australia/New Zealand; Foreign Affairs

1 posted on 07/25/2014 12:36:45 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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