Archive for July 21st, 2014

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17: Eight unanswered questions

By Faith Karimi
July 21, 2014

(CNN) — Amid the chaos and the grief, the politics and the finger pointing, we are no closer to answering some key questions about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The crash, which killed all 298 aboard, has turned a volatile Ukrainian region into a global problem.

Here are eight questions we don’t yet have the answers to.

1. Who shot down the plane?

Only a full investigation can settle that. This much we know: Flight MH17 was shot down using a surface-to-air missile in Ukrainian territory that’s controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

“We have a video showing a launcher moving back through a particular area there, out into Russia, with at least one missing missile on it,” Secretary of State John Kerry said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.

But Russia has denied any involvement. So have the rebels, who accuse the Ukrainians of downing the plane — without offering proof. Read the rest of this entry »


Pressure Grows on Putin as Forensics Experts Reach Crash Victims in Ukraine

New York Times
July 21, 2014

KIEV, Ukraine — Dutch forensics experts gained access on Monday to the remains of the victims from the downed Malaysia Airlines jet in eastern Ukraine after days of standoffs over access to the site and growing pressure on President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to clear the way for a full international investigation.

European leaders threatened new sanctions on Russia as soon as Tuesday, suggesting they were increasingly open to the harder line being taken against Moscow by the United States, which has accused Russia of providing the surface-to-air missile system that brought down the jetliner, training rebels in how to use it, and perhaps even supplying experts who helped to fire it.

Mr. Putin issued a brief statement early on Monday saying that Russia would work to ensure that the conflict in eastern Ukraine moved from the battlefield to the negotiating table. He said that a robust international investigating team must have secure access to the crash site, but also accused unspecified nations of exploiting the disaster in pursuit of “mercenary political goals.”

The slow pace at which the bodies have been recovered and the destruction or removal of potential evidence of what happened has generated growing anger at the separatist rebels and at Mr. Putin.

Even as the Dutch experts arrived on Monday in the town of Torez in eastern Ukraine, where the bodies of the victims have been collected in refrigerated rail cars, the Ukrainian prime minister, Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, said that pro-Russian rebels who control the area were preventing the train from leaving. Read the rest of this entry »

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MH17: Obama gains over Putin as US pushes EU on sanctions

Terry Atlas and Jonathan Allen
Brisbane Times
July 21, 2014

Washington: President Barack Obama’s response to the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine reflects the conclusion of US officials that time, evidence, and world opinion are increasingly on his side as he takes on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Secretary of State John Kerry cited the tragedy on Sunday in an effort to prod Europeans into increasing sanctions against Russia, even at some peril to their own economies, in an effort to break Mr Putin’s support for pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists. “We are trying to encourage our European friends to realise this is a wake-up call,” Kerry said on Fox News Sunday, invoking a phrase used last week by Mr Obama.

US officials, some speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss administration strategy, said the shooting down of the civilian jetliner — blamed by the US on pro-Russian separatists armed by Russia — should ignite anti-Putin sentiment and push reluctant EU countries to catch up to the more stringent sanctions the US had imposed last week. Dutch and other European citizens were among the 298 passengers and crew that perished. Read the rest of this entry »


Should Malaysia jet have flown over Ukraine?

By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
July 21, 2014

(CNN) — Why was Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 flying over war-torn eastern Ukraine?

“We, along with hundreds of other airlines, have flown that route safely for quite some time,” Hugh Dunleavy, commercial director for Malaysia Airlines, told CNN’s Saima Mohsin over the weekend. “Primarily we flew that route because we were advised that this was a safe corridor and there would be no incidents.”

Dunleavy said the plane, which was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, adjusted its altitude on its way across Europe under the direction of air traffic control.

Now, he said the airline is reassessing the route it uses for that flight. And since Thursday’s crash, commercial airlines that usually cross eastern Ukraine on their flights to Europe, Asia and elsewhere have been detouring away from the volatile region.

But far beyond Ukraine’s borders, analysts say the incident could pave the way for new guidelines for how close planes can fly to conflict zones. Read the rest of this entry »


Bodies From Malaysia Airlines Flight Are Stuck in Ukraine, Held Hostage Over Distrust

New York Times
JULY 20, 2014

TOREZ, Ukraine — Three wrenching days after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, the bodies of most of those aboard have ended up here, in a fly-infested railway station in a rough coal-mining town in eastern Ukraine.

For now, they are stuck, lying in five gray refrigerated train cars in this rebel-controlled war zone, hostages to high politics and mutual distrust.

The government in Kiev has accused the Russian-backed rebels who control the area of blocking access to the bodies and the crash site and delaying what is already a very painful process for the families of the dead.

The rebels insist they are cooperating, and say they want to turn the 247 bodies they had recovered as of Sunday over to international representatives. But they say those officials have not arrived; the rebels accuse the Ukrainian government of scaring the officials off, though European officials have disputed that claim.

Neither of the conflicting story lines fully reflects the chaos at the scene, where an incoherent recovery effort is being carried out by motley groups of mostly untrained people. On Sunday, they included miners straight from their shifts; local residents who arrive on run-down motorbikes; and poorly equipped emergency service workers who sleep in the field, amid the stench of decay, in sagging orange and blue tents. Read the rest of this entry »