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Russian-backed separatists fired missile: Obama

FILE - In this July 17, 2014 file photo, people inspect the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Hrabove, Ukraine. The downing of the jet could prove to be a turning point in the country's conflict. But which way it turns depends mainly on who carried out the attack and how convincingly it can be proved to the world. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

FILE - In this July 17, 2014 file photo, people inspect the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Hrabove, Ukraine. The downing of the jet could prove to be a turning point in the country's conflict. But which way it turns depends mainly on who carried out the attack and how convincingly it can be proved to the world. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)   | Photo Credit: Dmitry Lovetsky

U.S. President Barack Obama has said that “Russian-backed separatists inside of Ukraine” used surface-to-air missiles to bring down Malaysia Airlines 17 over the eastern part of the country on Thursday morning.

Describing the event as an “outrage of unspeakable proportions,” and hitting out at Russia for continuing to “support violent separatists,” Mr. Obama also said that the incident was a “wake-up call for Europe and the rest of the world that there are consequences” to escalating tensions in the Ukraine region.

Mr. Obama’s statements were echoed by preliminary U.S. intelligence assessments that Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, shared with the UN Security Council on Friday.

Given the technical complexity of the SA-11 missile suspected to have been used, she said, it was “unlikely that the separatists could effectively operate the system,” without assistance from knowledgeable personnel, and thus the U.S. “cannot rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel in operating the systems.”

Mr. Obama noted that over the previous week Russian-backed separatists had also shot down a Ukrainian transport plane and helicopter and claimed responsibility for shooting down a Ukrainian fighter jet.

 

“We know they’ve received arms, training… heavy weapons and anti-aircraft weapons from Russia,” the President said, adding, “There has to be a credible international investigation into what happened,” which the UNSC had endorsed.

Friday’s comments came even as the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said that it would send at least one investigator to Ukraine to help investigate the downed jet and officials said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation would also send personnel to assist the NTSB.

“In order to facilitate that investigation, Russia, pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine must adhere to an immediate ceasefire,” Mr. Obama said, urging that evidence must not be tampered with, investigators needed to access the crash site.”

Taking a step back the President appeared to put the ball in the court of Russian President Vladimir Putin who he said could make the decision not to allow heavy armaments and the flow of fighters into Ukraine across the Ukrainian-Russian border.

This might be a precursor to the separatists entering into negotiations and trying to “arrive at the sort of political accommodations that Mr. Putin himself says he wants to see,” Mr. Obama added, noting that the Russian President “has the most control over that situation, and so far, at least, he has not exercised it.”

He underscored that the UNSC had endorsed this investigation, and Washington would hold all of its members, including Russia, to their word.

The comments on Russia’s involvement and pressure for the investigation came even as the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said that it would send at least one investigator to Ukraine to help investigate the downed jet and reports quoted officials saying that the Federal Bureau of Investigation would also send personnel to assist with the NTSB investigation.

“In order to facilitate that investigation, Russia, pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine must adhere to an immediate ceasefire,” Mr. Obama said, urging that evidence must not be tampered with, investigators needed to access the crash site and the “solemn task of returning those who were lost on board the plane to their loved ones needs to go forward immediately.”

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 2:24:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/russianbacked-separatists-fired-missile-obama/article6226029.ece

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