US Secretary of State John Kerry has called the aftermath of the crash of flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine "the moment of truth for Russia." He said he hoped the crash would make European countries more open to sanctions.
In a series of television interviews with US broadcasters on Sunday, John Kerry turned up the pressure on Russia, saying Moscow was supporting Ukrainian separatists, accused by the US of shooting down flight MH17.
"This is the moment of truth for Russia," Kerry said. "Russia is supporting these separatists. Russia is arming these separatists. Russia is training these separatists, and Russia has not done the things necessary in order to try to bring them under control."
Kerry said that US intelligence reports, coupled with social media posts, made Washington believe rebels had shot down the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, which was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. He said the information "obviously points a very clear finger at the separatists," saying they had used an SA-11 surface-to-air missile provided by Russia. The Kremlin, however, has implicated Ukraine's military in the apparent shoot-down.
Kerry also voiced hope that some countries in Europe might now reconsider their stance on sanctions against Russia, a major trade partner and supplier of fossil fuels for the continent.
"We hope this is a wake-up call for some countries in Europe that have been reluctant to move," Kerry said, pointing to the tougher sanctions imposed by the US on Wednesday, a day before MH17 went down.
UN resolution in works, EU threatens sanctions
British Prime Minister David Cameron's office on Sunday released a statement, following talks with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying a fresh round of European sanctions was possible unless investigators received full access to the crash site.
"They … agreed that the EU must reconsider its approach to Russia and that foreign ministers should be ready to impose further sanctions on Russia when they meet on Tuesday," the statement said.
Australia on Sunday circulated a draft UN Security Council resolution demanding the Ukrainian rebels provide "full and unfettered access" to the crash site. News agency AFP obtained a copy of the document, reporting that it could be put to a vote in New York as early as Monday.
The resolution does not mention Russia specifically, but it "calls on all states and actors in the region to cooperate full in relation to the international investigation of the incident, including with respect to immediate access to the crash site … in an effort to strengthen the safety of international civil aviation and to prevent any recurrence of such use of force against civilian aircraft."
Slow recovery of bodies on site
The interim government in Kyiv and eastern rebels on Sunday traded blame over the comparatively sluggish recovery of bodies at the crash site. Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman told a news conference that 192 bodies and eight fragments of bodies were in refrigerated train carriages, ready for transportation. Groysman said Kyiv was waiting on the rebels to give the green light for the train to set off.
The rebels responded however, by saying that Kyiv was to blame for the delayed arrival of international inspectors, with one rebel leader sarcastically saying the inspectors must be "walking from Kyiv."
More than half of the 298 people killed in the crash were Dutch and the Netherlands' foreign minister has said his country is "furious" to hear reports of bodies being "dragged around" at the site.
Ukrainian emergency workers on site have a difficult balancing act: they answer to the government in Kyiv but are operating on territory controlled by the separatists.
msh/pfd (AP, dpa, Reuters)