By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council is considering a draft resolution to condemn the "shooting down" of a Malaysian passenger plane in Ukraine, demand armed groups allow access to the crash site, and call on states in the region to cooperate with an international investigation.
Australia - which lost 28 citizens - circulated a draft text, seen by Reuters, to the 15-member Security Council late on Saturday and diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it could be put to a vote as early as Monday.
The draft resolution "demands that those responsible for this incident be held to account and that all states cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability."
It "condemns in the strongest terms the shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 ... resulting in the tragic loss of 298 lives" and "demands that all states and other actors in the region refrain from acts of violence directed against civilian aircraft."
The United States and other powers have said the plane was likely brought down on Thursday by a surface-to-air missile fired from rebel territory.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said on Friday that Washington could not rule out Russian help in firing the missile.
Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine to cooperate and insisted that an international investigation must not leap to conclusions. Moscow denies involvement and has pointed a finger at Kiev's military.
Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Moscow of fueling a pro-Russian uprising that threatens to break up the former Soviet republic of 46 million people. Russia denies orchestrating the unrest and says Ukraine's attempts to end it by military force are making the situation worse.
The draft U.N. resolution "calls on all states and actors in the region to cooperate fully in relation to the international investigation of the incident, including with respect to immediate access to the crash site."
It "demands that the armed groups in control of the crash site and the surrounding area refrain from any actions that may compromise the integrity of the crash site and immediately provide safe, secure, full and unfettered access to the site and surrounding area."
International monitors the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said on Saturday they had been allowed to see more of the crash site, though gunmen still stopped them approaching some of the wreckage.
Russia's U.N. mission declined to comment on the draft Security Council resolution.
The Security Council issued an statement on Friday calling for a "full, thorough and independent international investigation," access to the site and appropriate accountability. Britain drafted the short text and hoped the council could issue it on Thursday but Russia requested more time to review it.
The Australian-drafted resolution "supports efforts to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines."
It also "insists that the bodies of the victims are treated in a dignified, respectful and professional manner."
(Editing by Robert Birsel)