United States President Barack Obama on Monday said it was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s responsibility to make Ukrainian separatists cooperate in MH17 crash probe.
Putin has “extraordinary influence” over them, the US president said, joining international outage over continued attempts by Russia-backed separatists to block investigations.
Obama said the burden was on Russia and Putin, personallly, to make the separatists “stop tampering with the evidence” and grant immediate, full and unimpeded access to the site.
Ukrainian rescue workers collect bodies of victims at the site of the crash of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Grabove, in rebel-held east Ukraine. (AFP photo)
“What exactly are they trying to hide,” he asked in a brief statement he read out from the White House lawns. “We have to make sure the truth is out and accountability exists,” he added.
US officials has in the past days said the missile used in the shooting of the Malaysian airliner was provided to the separatists by Russia.
US told the UN Security Council that Russia may have even provided technical assistance in operating the systems, which were too complex for the rebels.
They also alleged that American intelligence detected attempts to remove evidence of Russian culpability — the missile systems were returned to Russia.
Read: Train full of MH17 victims' bodies must leave – Dutch tell rebels
Armed rebels forced emergency workers to hand over all 196 bodies recovered from the MH17 crash site and had them loaded onto refrigerated train cars bound for a rebel-held city, Ukrainian officials said. (AP photo)
Read: Rebels to 'guarantee safety' of MH17 crash site monitors if Ukraine argees truce
Russia has denied any role in the shooting, and sought to shift the blame to Ukraine’s inability to keep peace in the region, which, it has argued, led to the shooting.
Obama also said it was time for Putin to get serious about resolving the situation in Ukraine or be prepared for escalating costs (more sanctions).
This time around, European countries, whose sanctions against Russia have been nowhere as severe as America’s — a major US frustration so far — may not be found wanting.
Read: Time for Russia to 'get out' of Ukraine, say Britain