International demands for clarity on responsibility for downing of Malaysian aircraft over eastern Ukraine

The European Union is among those demanding clarity on the facts of the downing of Malasyian Airlines Flight MH17 in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

All 295 passengers died when the plane was brought down while en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

US sources have indicated that they have established that the aircraft was brought down by a surface-to-air missile but have not found from where the missile was fired. Numerous commentators have said that it was most likely fired by pro-Russian forces.

In a joint statement, European Commission President Jose Barroso and European Council President Herman van Rompuy called for an “immediate and thorough” investigation into the causes of the crash.

“The facts and responsibilities need to be established as quickly as possible. The European Union will continue to follow this issue very closely,” the joint statement said.

The EU’s foreign policy arm, the European External Action Service (EEAS), said that the circumstances must be clarified without delay and the international investigation must shed full light on this tragedy.

“We call on all parties in the region of the crash to provide full access to the crash site, so that it can be secured immediately, to cooperate fully and to share all relevant information.”

Media reports said, however, that the pro-Russian forces had taken the aircraft’s black box from the site and sent it to Moscow.

The EEAS statement said, “this is another stark illustration of why it is so urgent to bring this conflict to an end. Without prejudging the facts behind the crash, we call on all parties to stop the senseless loss of life in Eastern Ukraine, to refrain from any escalatory acts, and to agree to an immediate cease fire.”

The White House said that US president Barack Obama had spoken with Ukrainian president Poroshenko on July 17 to discuss the tragic crash of flight Malaysian Airlines 17.

“President Poroshenko welcomed the assistance of international investigators to ensure a thorough and transparent investigation of the crash site. President Obama assured him that US experts will offer all possible assistance immediately,” the White House statement said.

“The Presidents emphasized that all evidence from the crash site must remain in place on the territory of Ukraine until international investigators are able to examine all aspects of the tragedy.”

Obama called Malaysian prime minister Najib to express condolences and said that the US had offered immediate assistance to support a prompt international investigation.

“President Obama reaffirmed the strength of the friendship between the United States and Malaysia and underscored that the United States stands ready to provide any assistance or support necessary.”

The UN Security Council was to meet on July 18 at 2pm GMT to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

“I am closely monitoring the reports, along with the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency. There is clearly a need for a full and transparent international investigation,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters at UN Headquarters.

Predictably, the view from the Kremlin was different, going by a statement from the Russian presidency.

The Kremlin quoted Russian president Vladimir Putin as saying at the beginning of a meeting with senior officials, “In the name of the Russian leadership and the Government of the Russian Federation, we express our condolences to all the victims’ families and the governments of the nations whose citizens were on that plane. Let us honour their memory.

“In this regard, I would like to note that this tragedy would not have occurred if there were peace in that country, or in any case, if hostilities had not resumed in southeast Ukraine. And certainly, the government over whose territory it occurred is responsible for this terrible tragedy,” Putin said.

The Kyiv Post reported that Security Services of Ukraine chief Valentyn Nalivaichenko, at a late night news conference, said the government is making all evidence in the investigation public, including intercepted phone calls between two members of the Russian military special services unit – known as the GRU – in which they discussed shooting down the airplane.



The Sofia Globe staff

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