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EU asks Putin for access to MH17 crash site

Germany, Britain and France have stepped up pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin by demanding him to ensure full access for international investigators to the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines plane in the pro-Russian rebels-controlled part of eastern Ukraine.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the MH17 flight disaster with British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande in phone calls on Sunday and they agreed that the immediate priority is to secure access to the crash site and to recover the bodies of the victims.

They urged Mr. Putin to use his influence over pro-Russian rebels to ensure unrestricted access to the crash site for an independent international commission, a government spokesman said.

They also warned that the EU will impose tougher sanctions against Russia if it failed to take necessary steps to pressure separatists.

The EU foreign ministers will be discussing Russia’s response to the plane disaster at a meeting tomorrow and several member nations are pushing for economic sanctions against Moscow.

All 298 people on board flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were killed when the aircraft was apparently hit by a surface-to-air missile on Thursday and crashed into a rebel-controlled area near the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine close to the Russian border.

Ms. Merkel discussed the situation after the air disaster also with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, Finland’s Prime Minister Alexander Stubb and Ukraine’s President Petro Poroschenko, the spokesman said.

They deplored the way the rebels treated the crash victims and restricted investigation and recovery efforts by international experts.

They agreed that full access for international experts to the crash site must be secured immediately.

Ms. Merkel also had a phone call with Mr. Putin on Sunday for the third time since the plane crash.

She once again urged Mr. Putin to use his influence over the rebels to convene a meeting of the contact group rebels as soon possible to agree on a ceasefire in the conflict-hit eastern Ukraine.

Putin blames others for exploiting Ukraine crash

Russian President Vladimir Putin has lambasted those who use the downing of a passenger jet in eastern Ukraine for “mercenary objectives,” the Kremlin said on Monday.

In a statement posted on the Kremlin website, Mr. Putin again lashed out at Ukraine for ongoing violence with pro-Russian rebels in the eastern part of the country.

He says the tragedy is being used for others’ “mercenary objectives,” although he does not say specifically who.

Mr. Putin also says he supports a crash investigation by a “full team of experts” under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, a UN agency.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2021 11:20:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/eu-asks-putin-for-access-to-mh17-crash-site/article6233327.ece

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