U.S. says Missile that Brought Down Malaysian Flight was Launched from Separatist Controlled Territory
07/18/2014 -The surface-to-air missile that brought down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was launched from an area in Ukraine that is currently under pro-Russian separatist control, U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement Friday afternoon. To further investigate who was responsible for launching the missile, Obama has called for an immediate ceasefire in eastern Ukraine to allow international investigators to access the crash site to collect evidence.
In his remarks, Obama said the tragedy was an international disaster and that an international investigation must take place to determine who is at fault for bringing down the flight, which carried 298 individuals from Australia, the Netherlands, Malaysia, and other countries who were all killed in the crash. The United States has also confirmed that at least one passenger was either a U.S. citizen or had dual citizenship.
The United States has offered support for the investigation through the FBI and the National Transportation Security Board, which both have representatives on their way to Ukraine. The United Nations Security Council has also pledged support for the investigation to determine who was responsible for downing the plane.
In an earlier report this morning by The New York Times, pro-Russian militants that control the region where the flight crashed said they would engage in a two- to four-day truce to allow investigators onto the scene. Currently, they are limiting access to journalists and local emergency crews who are working to recover bodies of passengers that were killed.
The Times has also shared an audiorecording that was intercepted by the Ukraine Security Service and allegedly is of a separatist speaking to a Russian intelligence official on the phone. In the recording, a separatist commander identified as Igor Bezler speaks with a Russian intelligence official and says �we have just shot down a plane�it fell beyond Yenakievo.� He also said that others were going to search for the plane and photograph it.
In another call that was also intercepted by Ukrainian officials, another man who seems to be at the scene of the crash describes the wreckage and identifies the flight as a civilian aircraft, saying it �fell apart in midair.�
While there is no concreate evidence of who brought the plane down, Obama put pressure on Russia and focused many of his remarks on asking Russian President Vladimir Putin to take action to stop supplying the separatists with arms and training.
�A group of separatists can�t shoot down military transport planes, or shoot down fighter jets without sophisticated training,� Obama explained, citing claims that separatists have made in past weeks of shooting down Ukrainian military aircraft. Obama said that the separatists would not have been able to take down any military aircraft without the training that they�ve received from Russia, which has done little to intervene in the escalating situation in Ukraine.
Putin acknowledged the situation in astatementearlier in the day, which was quoted by Reuters, but did not announce any actions Russian officials might be taking to deescalate the situation. �This tragedy would not have happened if there had been peace on that land, or in any case if military operations in southeastern Ukraine had not been renewed,� he said. �And without doubt the government of the territory on which it happened bears responsibility for this frightening tragedy.
�We will do everything that we can so that an objective picture of what happened can be achieved. This is a completely unacceptable thing.�
Obama also said that the escalation in violence in eastern Ukraine shows that it�s not a problem solely for that country, but is a security concern for Europe as a whole that must be addressed to bring peace to the continent.
Ukraine�s President Petro Poroshenko echoed his sentiments in a statement, also obtained by Reuters. �The tragedy showed again that terrorism is not localized, but a world problem,� Poroshenko explained. �And the external aggression against Ukraine is not just our problem, but a threat to European and global security.�