U.S. Says Evidence Points to Separatists in Missile That Downed Malaysia Airliner

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Harsh Words for Russia as It Denies Role in Crash in Ukraine.

The U.S. said Friday that the Malaysia Airlines plane that crashed in Ukraine was likely downed by a ground-to-air missile from rebel territory, as Russia came under a barrage of criticism from the West over the disaster.

The plane carrying 283 passengers and 15 crew crashed in the battle-torn eastern Ukraine region of Donetsk, where pro-Russia separatists are occupying several towns in a three-month conflict.

President Barack Obama, who called the downing of the flight a wake-up call for Europe and the world, said the U.S. and its allies would impose further costs on Russia if it continues to back the rebels.

“This should snap everybody’s heads to attention,” Mr Obama said from the White House as he squarely blamed the separatists for the tragedy. “Evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile from an area that is controlled by Russian-backed separatists inside of Ukraine,” he said a news conference.

Earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur appeared to have been shot down. Though she said it wasn’t clear who did so, she warned that Russia bore responsibility for events in Ukraine and Moscow “must do its part to calm the situation.”

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, delivered a strong and lengthy statement to the Security Council in New York detailing evidence that the Malaysian plane was “likely downed” by an SA-11 anti-aircraft system “operated from a separatist held location” in eastern Ukraine close to the Russian border.

“Russia must stop destabilizing Ukraine,” Ms. Power said.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused Russia of “supplying military personnel and state-of-the-art weaponry” to insurgents, calling on the international community for an “adequate response.”

The tough words ramped up pressure on President Vladimir Putin to rein in the separatists.

Mr. Putin said Russia would do everything it could to “ensure that an objective understanding of what happened becomes available to the Russian public,” but a Kremlin statement reiterated his stance that Ukraine was at fault.

The Russian president joined Mr. Obama and Ms. Merkel in calling for a cease-fire. “We are coming from a position in which peace should flourish as soon as possible in Ukraine; direct contacts between opposing sides should be established,” Mr. Putin was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying following a meeting with the head of the Russian Orthodox church.

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