US Says Putin ‘Culpable’ In MH17 Plane Crash

The White House has said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “culpable” in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine.

In his strongest comments yet since the plane was shot down – killing all 298 people aboard, White House spokesman Josh Earnest linked the crash to Russia, which the US has criticised for providing arms to Ukrainian separatists.

Mr Earnest told reporters: “What we also know is that the Malaysia Airlines jet was brought down by a missile that was fired from the ground.

“It was fired from the ground in an area that was controlled by separatists, and in an area where the Ukrainians themselves were not actually operating anti-aircraft weapons at that time.

“So that is why we have concluded that Vladimir Putin and the Russians are culpable to this tragedy.”

Mr Earnest also confirmed reports that Russian troops are firing heavy artillery on Ukrainian military across the border, describing it as an escalation of the conflict.

The US has previously accused Russia of providing arms to Ukrainian pro-Russian separatists.

Russia, however, has called the latest US accusations of Moscow’s involvement in the Ukrainian conflict a baseless “smear campaign”.

Meanwhile, European Union ambassadors have reached a preliminary deal on stepped-up sanctions against Russia, targeting its defence and technology sectors and its access to European capital.

EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said EU member states must decide whether the measures need to be approved by a summit meeting of the trade bloc’s 28 member countries to go into effect.

The ambassadors also ordered asset freezes and travel bans against more Russians and pro-Russian Ukrainians accused of undermining Ukraine.

Alexander Bortnikov, head of the FSB, and Mikhail Fradkov, head of the foreign intelligence service, were among 15 Russians and Ukrainians, and 18 companies and other organisations named in the latest sanctions list published in the EU’s Official Journal.

Russia increased its economic pressure on Ukraine when its agency in charge of agricultural products announced that it is banning imports of Ukrainian dairy.

Russia is the biggest export market for Ukrainian milk and cheese.

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26 July 2014 | 2:17 am – Source: orange.co.uk

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