Putin blames others for exploiting Ukraine crash

Australia says Ukraine crash probe resembles 'garden clean-up'

Agencies . Moscow, Sydney / New Age Online
People bring flowers and candles to the Dutch embassy to commemorate the victims of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in Kiev, July 17, 2014. The Malaysian airliner flight MH-17 was brought down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 295 people aboard and sharply raising the stakes in a conflict between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels in which Russia and the West back opposing sides. – Reuters photo

People bring flowers and candles to the Dutch embassy to commemorate the victims of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in Kiev, July 17, 2014. The Malaysian airliner flight MH-17 was brought down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 295 people aboard and sharply raising the stakes in a conflict between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels in which Russia and the West back opposing sides. – Reuters photo

Russian President Vladimir Putin lashed out Monday against those who he said were exploiting the downing of a passenger jet in eastern Ukraine for “mercenary objectives.”
Putin said Russia was doing everything possible to allow a team of experts from the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency, to investigate the scene. He also again criticized the Ukraine authorities in Kiev for reigniting the fighting with the pro-Russian rebels who control the crash site.
“We can say with confidence that if fighting in eastern Ukraine had not been renewed on June 28, this tragedy would not have happened,” Putin said. “Nobody should or does have a right to use this tragedy for such mercenary objectives.”
Putin is coming under increasing international pressure to rein in the rebels in Ukraine and allow international inspectors to investigate the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was downed Thursday over Ukraine, killing all 298 people aboard.
On Sunday, the United States presented what it called “powerful” evidence that the rebels shot down the plane with a Russian surface-to-air missile.
“Russia is supporting these separatists. Russia is arming these separatists. Russia is training these separatists,” Secretary of State John Kerry said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’
The leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Australia also spoke to Putin by phone late Sunday. European foreign ministers are also meeting in Brussels Tuesday to consider further sanctions on Russia.
International indignation has grown as investigators still only have limited access to the sprawling fields where the plane fell.
Pro-Moscow rebels piled nearly 200 bodies from the downed Malaysian jetliner into four refrigerated boxcars Sunday in eastern Ukraine, and cranes at the crash scene moved big chunks of the Boeing 777, drawing condemnation that the site was being tampered with.
In an opinion piece for the Sunday Times, British Prime Minister David Cameron said there was a “growing weight of evidence” suggesting that the rebels shot down the plane.
If that was the case, Cameron said that was “a direct result of Russia destabilizing a sovereign state, violating its territorial integrity, backing thuggish militias and training and arming them.”
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose country lost 28 citizens in the tragedy, said Putin “said all the right things” during their telephone conversation about ensuring an international investigation into the disaster.
“I’m now going to try to ensure that as far as Australia humanly can, we insist upon these things happening,” Abbott told Sydney Radio 2GB on Monday. “The site is being treated more like a garden cleanup than a forensic investigation, and this is completely unacceptable.”
The 109-square-kilometer (42-square-mile) crash site, spread out on farmland and villages, looked dramatically different Sunday, a day after armed rebels had stood guard while dozens of bodies lay in the summer heat. The rebels were gone, and 192 bodies were loaded into the refrigerated train cars in the rebel-held town of Torez, 15 kilometers (nine miles) away.
The Ukrainian government said in a statement on its website that a second train with four refrigerator cars had arrived at Torez station.
Emergency workers, who the rebels have allowed to operate under their control, were searching the sprawling fields. Cranes moved pieces of the plane around, apparently to look for more bodies underneath.
By Sunday night, Ukraine’s emergency services agency said the total number of bodies found was 251.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country lost 192 citizens on the plane, told a news conference that repatriating the bodies was his “No. 1 priority.”
He said all efforts were aimed at getting the train with the bodies to “territory controlled by Ukraine” and that a Dutch military plane was being sent to Kharkiv to set up a coordination center.
Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said reports from the group’s investigators in Ukraine suggest some bodies were incinerated without a trace.
“We’re looking at the field where the engines have come down. This was the area which was exposed to the most intense heat. We do not see any bodies here. It appears that some have been vaporized,” he said from the crash site.
Rebel leader Alexander Borodai denied the rebels were trying to tamper with evidence, saying the bodies would be turned over to a team of Malaysian experts he was expecting.
A group of investigators that included Malaysian officials was in Kiev, but said they wouldn’t go into rebel-held areas until they get better assurances about security. The Ukrainian government, which has responsibility for the investigation, has also asked for help from the International Civil Aviation Organization — a U.N. body — and Eurocontrol, a European air traffic safety organization.
Borodai insisted the rebels have not interfered with the investigation, and said he would turn over the plane’s flight data and cockpit voice recorders, or “black boxes,” as well.
“The bodies will go nowhere until experts arrive,” Borodai said in the rebel-held city of Donetsk.
But there were clear indications that the rebels were interfering in the investigation.
Reuters adds: Australia says Ukraine crash probe resembles ‘garden clean-up’
Australia’s prime minister voiced deep concern on Monday that Russian-backed rebels remained in control of the crash site of a Malaysian airliner shot down over Ukraine, saying the site looked more like a “garden clean-up” than a forensic investigation.
At least 27 Australian passengers were among the 298 people aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, shot down over eastern Ukraine in an attack the West has blamed on separatist rebels armed by Russia.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, speaking on a breakfast radio show, said he had spoken “overnight” to Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time about the disaster, amid mounting horror over the treatment of victims’ remains.
“He said all the right things and now we need him to be as good as his word,” Abbott told 2GB radio, declining to comment in detail about his discussion with Putin.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday demanded Moscow take responsibility for the actions of pro-Russian rebels whom Washington suspects of downing the jet with a missile. He expressed disgust at their “grotesque” mishandling of the bodies.
Moscow denies any involvement in the disaster and has blamed the Ukrainian military.
Television images of the rebel-controlled crash scene, where the remains of victims had lain decomposing in fields among their personal belongings, have turned initial shock and sorrow after Thursday’s disaster into anger. The bodies had been removed from much of the crash site by Sunday, with many placed in refrigerated train wagons.
“Given the almost certain culpability of the Russian-backed rebels in the downing of the aircraft, having those people in control of the site is a little like leaving criminals in control of a crime scene,” Abbott later told reporters.
Australia pushes for UN resolution: A 45-strong Australian investigation team was either in or heading to Kiev, but had so far been unable to travel to the site despite some improvement in access.
“There’s still a hell of a long way to go before anyone could be satisfied with the way that site is being treated,” Abbott said. “It’s more like a garden clean-up than a forensic investigation. This is completely unacceptable.”
Heading the Australian group is retired Navy officer Angus Houston, who had been leading the search for Malaysian Airlines
Flight MH370 which disappeared in March and is believed to have crashed off the west Australian coast. A C17 military transport aircraft is also on standby to fly to Ukraine.
Abbott, who has been the most outspoken leader regarding Russia’s role in the disaster, said he had spoken to many Western leaders in the past two days and had noted “a much firmer and sterner mood” now.
Australia is leading a push for a binding U.N. resolution that demands those responsible be held accountable and that armed groups do not compromise the crash site integrity.
Russia’s ambassador to Australia told the Australian Financial Review on Monday that it would support the resolution, provided it did not point fingers at Moscow or its proxies.
“This resolution is supported by Russia … so long as it does not blame somebody,” Morozov said in an interview, the newspaper reported.
Abbott said that any effort by Russia to block or delay a resolution would be viewed “very, very badly” by Australia.
Abbott is due to host Putin and other world leaders at the G20 Leaders Summit in November and is facing mounting calls to ban the Russian leader from participating.
“There’s a lot of water that will almost certainly flow under the bridge between now and November and I just think it’s unhelpful to start speculating about what might happen in four months now,” he said.



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