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Monday, July 21, 2014

Vladimir Putin breaks silence on MH17 crash: let's not politicise this tragedy, he says


Moscow: Russia's President Vladimir Putin, the leader at the centre of the international crisis over the downed Malaysia Airlines' plane has broken his silence, saying no country should use the tragedy for its own ends.
“We must do everything to provide security for the international experts on the site of the tragedy," Mr Putin said, in his first public comments about the incident.

The Russian leader appeared to seek to temper international fury after US Secretary of State John Kerry said the missile system used to shoot down the Malaysia Airlines jet was "transferred from Russia in the hands of separatists".
"We know with confidence, with confidence that the Ukrainians did not have such a system anywhere near the vicinity at that point in time. So it obviously points a very clear finger at the separatists," Mr Kerry told CNN.
He also slammed as "grotesque" the manner in which "drunken separatist soldiers" were allegedly "unceremoniously piling bodies into trucks, removing both bodies, as well as evidence, from the site".

In separate phone calls, Mr Putin promised Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte "full co-operation" in retrieving the bodies and black boxes, while Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the Russian leader had said "all the right things".
Both countries suffered heavy losses when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was blown out of the sky on Thursday by what is believed to have been a surface-to-air missile, killing 298 and dramatically raising the stakes in Ukraine's bloody three-month conflict.
The separatists' violent bid for independence is the latest chapter in a prolonged crisis sparked by Kiev's desire for closer ties with the EU - a sentiment many in the Russian-speaking east do not share.

Evidence is mounting that the rebels downed the jet, pushing East-West ties, already strained by the bitter tug-of-war over Ukraine's future, to crisis point.

And the US embassy confirmed as authentic recordings released by Kiev of an intercepted call between an insurgent commander and a Russian intelligence officer as they realised they had shot down a passenger jet.

Insurgents said they had in hand material resembling black boxes, but promised to give them to "international investigators if they arrive".

Mr Putin has denied having any influence over the rebels, who have said they would only accede to Western demands over the crash if Kiev agreed to a truce.
However, in his third conversation with the Dutch Prime Minister since the crash, Mr Putin promised he would help retrieve the bodies and black boxes.
"On both points Putin promised his full co-operation," a spokeswoman for the government press service RVD, asking not to be named, told AFP.

Experts from the Netherlands - in mourning after the loss of 193 nationals - are set to arrive at the crash site on Monday.
Meanwhile, Mr Abbott demanded Mr Putin back his words with action aftertheir phone conversation, but did not give details of what was discussed.

The leaders of France, Britain and Germany signalled they could ramp up sanctions against Russia as early as Tuesday - barely a week after the last round of toughened embargoes.
This has piled pressure on Moscow.

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