19 Jul 14. U.S. President Barack Obama said the downing of a Malaysian jetliner in a Ukrainian region controlled by Russian-backed separatists should be a “wake-up call for Europe and the world” in a crisis that appears to be at a turning point and warned Russia of possible tightening of sanctions. While stopping short of blaming Russia for Thursday’s crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, in which 298 people died, Obama accused Moscow of failing to stop the violence that made it possible to shoot down the plane. The United States has said the jetliner was hit by a surface-to-air missile fired from rebel territory. A senior U.S. official said there was increasing confidence that the missile was fired by separatists and that there was no reason to doubt the validity of a widely circulated audiotape in which voices identified as separatists discussed the downing of the plane.
“This certainly will be a wake-up call for Europe and the world that there are consequences to an escalating conflict in eastern Ukraine; that it is not going to be localized, it is not going to be contained,” Obama told reporters on Friday. Obama spoke by phone later with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The White House said they discussed Ukraine and the downed jet and the need for an unimpeded international investigation into what happened.
Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said on Saturday he would fly to the Ukraine capital of Kiev to ensure an investigating team gets safe access to the site. Defence Minister and former transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein said a main priority was to ensure debris was not tampered with.
“We want to get to the bottom of this,” he added, saying that Malaysia had been in touch with officials in Russia, Ukraine, the United States, Britain and China.
“We do not have a position until the facts have been verified, whether the plane was really brought down, how it was brought down, who brought it down,” he said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a fair and objective investigation as soon as possible. International observers said gunmen stopped them examining the site properly when they got there on Friday. More than half of the victims were Dutch in what has become a pivotal incident in deteriorating relations between Russia and the West. Obama ruled out military intervention but said he was prepared to tighten sanctions. Russia, which Obama said was letting the rebels bring in weapons, has expressed anger at implications it was to blame, saying people should not prejudge the outcome of an inquiry. There were no survivors from Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, a Boeing 777. The United Nations said 80 of the 298 aboard were children. The deadliest attack on a commercial airliner, it scattered bodies over miles of rebel-held territory near the border with Russia. The loss was the second devastating blow for Malaysia Airlines and the country this year, following the disappearance of Flight MH370 in March with 239 passengers and crew on board on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Makeshift white flags marked where bodies lay in corn fields and among the debris. Others, stripped bare by the force of the crash, had been covered by polythene sheeting weighed down by stones, one marked with a flower in remembrance. One pensioner told how a woman smashed though her roof. “There was a howling noise and everything started to rattle. Then objects started falling out of the sky,” said Irina Tipunova, 65. “And then I heard a roar and she landed in the kitchen.” (Source: Reuters)
18 Jul 14. Although it unclear who is helping separatists fighting in Ukraine and how much help is being provided, there are no indications that Russia has stopped its support, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said. During a Pentagon news conference, Kirby discussed the need for Russia to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine and its p