U.S. intelligence information and social media reports indicate that Russian involvement likely led to the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine on Thursday. According to Secretary of State John Kerry, who appeared on five major talk shows on Sunday, evidence points to Ukraine separatists and a steady flow of weapons over the Russian border. Both the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists previously denied involvement in the crash. Kerry called on Russian president Vladimir Putin to become more proactive in avoiding future tragedies like the MH17 crash, and to urge Ukrainian separatists to attempt reconciliation with the central government in Kiev.
“There’s a stacking up of evidence here, which Russia needs to help account for,” Kerry said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “We are not drawing the final conclusion here. But there is a lot that points at the need for Russia to be responsible.”
Kerry added that many separatists are receiving military aid from the porous border between the two countries. The secretary of state also claimed that rebels initially bragged about the attack on MH17 before realizing it was a passenger jet, and he condemned the separatists’ handling of debris and investigation in the aftermath of the crash.
“Drunken separatists are stacking bodies into the back of trucks, removing materials from the site,” Kerry told ABC’s This Week. “This is an insult to everybody. It’s really a moment of truth for Russia to step up and be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
Despite the poor handling of the MH17 investigation so far, rebels appear to have made moves to stop further tampering with the crash site. On Sunday, rebel leaders announced that they had uncovered black boxes from the downed plane and would turn them over to the International Civil Aviation Organization. Rebels also reportedly removed up to 196 bodies from the crash site. The corpses are being stored in refrigerated railcars, which are to remain stationary while international leaders call for Putin to allow greater access for crash site investigators.