Russia will thwart UN attempts to set up an international tribunal to discuss the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine last year, President Vladimir Putin has indicated.

In a phone call with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the Russian leader opposed the idea, which he described as "inexpedient", saying Moscow has had little access to the related investigation.

"Putin said that Russia continues to view the establishment of such a tribunal as not being the best course of action, noting that many questions remain regarding the investigation, including with respect to the evidence collected so far, and to Russia not being allowed to participate in much of the investigation," the Kremlin said.

The Netherlands was among the most vocal advocates for an international criminal trial to prosecute those responsible for blowing the Boeing 777 out of the sky.

Most of the 298 victims were Dutch, as the Kuala Lumpur-bound plane had taken off from Amsterdam.

Ukraine and its Western allies have long accused Russian-backed rebels for the disaster, suggesting it was caused by a surface-to-air missile fired from separatist-held territory. Moscow is widely expected to veto a UN Security Council vote on establishing the tribunal, scheduled for 29 July.