In an address to the press corps today at the White House, President Barack Obama called for a “credible international investigation into what happened” to Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down Thursday over Ukrainian airspace.
Obama said U.S. intelligence sources have “concluded that a surface-to-air missile launched from insurgent-held territory in eastern Ukraine brought down a Malaysia Air jetliner, killing all 298 people on board,” reports Bloomberg
“Their deaths are an outrage of unspeakable proportions,” Obama said at the briefing. He added that Russia continues to refuse to de-escalate the conflict, he said, and called for an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine.
“U.S. military and intelligence agencies said that while they’re still investigating, it increasingly appears Flight 17 was downed by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile known by its NATO designation SA-11 Gadfly,” Bloomberg reports.
“Ukraine detained two Russians on the border, one of them with military identification and trained in the Buk missile system, Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, chairman of the state security service, told journalists in Kiev” Friday.
“The Interior Ministry posted a video on YouTube of what it said was a rebel forces’ truck moving a Buk rocket launcher with one rocket missing. It was heading through the city of Krasnodon toward the border with Russia, the ministry said.”
Bloomberg further reports, “The U.S. is raising pressure on Russia to end support for the rebels as the United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting over the catastrophe. Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin … questioned why Ukraine allowed a civilian plane to fly over the conflict zone and called for an impartial investigation.”
Obama accused Russia of providing a “steady flow of support” to insurgents battling the Ukrainian government, including arms, training and heavy weapons, Bloomberg reports. “While the fighting in Ukraine has raged,” Obama said, “Russia has refused to take the concrete steps necessary to de-escalate the situation.’”
As the investigation continues, “Ukraine’s state security service said it intercepted phone conversations among pro-Russian militants discussing a missile strike that knocked the Boeing Co. 777 on Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur out of the sky 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Russian border yesterday,” Bloomberg reports.
Reporters have been told that Ukrainian emergency services have found the plane’s black boxes at the crash site. A total of 181 bodies have been recovered from the site so far, and the remains will be sent to the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.
In addition to 283 passengers and 15 crew members, Flight 17 was also carrying helicopter and aircraft parts as well as live birds and dogs, according to the airline.