President Barack Obama said Friday that evidence shows that the downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was caused by a surface-to-air missile launched from areas in Ukraine controlled by Russian separatists.
Obama called for a credible international investigation into the incident and called for an immediate ceasefire in the area.
“We know these separatists have received a steady flow of support from Russia,” Obama said at the White House briefing room. “This includes arms and training. It includes heavy weapons and it includes anti-aircraft weapons.”
Obama said that the United States has deterimed that one American citizen was aboard the plane.
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“Nearly 300 innocent lives were taken. Men, women, children, infants who had nothing to do with the crisis in Ukraine,” Obama said. “Their deaths are a outrage of unspeakable proportions.”
Obama spoke with the leaders of Ukraine, Malaysia and the Netherlands. He will speak with the prime minister Australia later today.
“The United States stands ready to provide any assistance that is necessary. We've already offered the support of the FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board, which has experience in working with international partners on these types of investigations,” he said. “They are on their way, personnel from the FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board. In the coming hours and days I'll continue to be in close contact with leaders from around the world as we respond to this catastrophe. Our immediate focus will be on recovering those who were lost, investigating exactly what happened, and putting forward the facts.”
Obama said the United States supports a pathway to peace but that time and time again the Russians has refused to take the steps necessary to de-escalate the situation.
“Instead, it has continued to violate Ukrainian sovereignty and to support violent separatists,” he said. “It has also failed to use its influence to press the separatists to abide by a cease-fire. That's why, together with our allies, we've imposed growing costs on Russia.”
Ukrainian officials accused the separatists of downing the plane with a missile from a Soviet-era anti-aircraft system and vowed to find those responsible, while leaders of the self-declared Donetsk Peoples Republic, the region where the plane fell, denied any involvement. A social network post by a separatist commander, however, suggested that his men may have mistaken the plane for a Ukrainian military aircraft.