John Kerry: Malaysia Airlines Jet Brought Down By Russian Missile

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that a Russian missile brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, according to Reuters.

Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, Kerry said that “it’s pretty clear that this is a [missile] system that was transferred from Russia.”

He declined to say Russian President Vladimir Putin was “culpable” for the plane being shot down on Thursday but did argue that pro-Russian rebels were hindering a full, transparent investigation of the incident.

As we reported yesterday, Putin has declined to take responsibility for the situation, instead pointing to the Ukrainian government’s inability to secure its own territory and address the grievances of pro-Russian separatists in the east. That in turn has drawn criticisms from many world leaders who see Putin’s nationalist rhetoric and policies as fomenting the unrest in Ukraine.

“Russia risks becoming a pariah state if it does not behave properly,” British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told Sky TV, according to Reuters.

Kerry also told CNN’s Candy Crowley that the rebels had been trained in the use of the missile system.

“We know for certain that the separatists have a proficiency that they’ve gained by training from Russians as to how to use these sophisticated SA-11 systems,” he said, according to The New York Times. “We know they have the system.”

The Times also reported that Ukrainian officials had released audio recordings of intercepted phone calls they said proved rebels had been in contact with members of the Russian military. On one of the recordings, a rebel says, “We have just shot down a plane.”

Kerry was making the rounds on five news programs Sunday to publicly press the case against Russia. On CBS’ Face the Nation, Kerry cited an “enormous amount of evidence” pointing to Russia:

“What we have is a lot of evidence that points in that direction, that raises very, very serious questions, including the fact that a few weeks ago, we have 150-vehicle convoy coming from Russia, going into the east of Ukraine with tanks, artillery multiple rocket launchers, armored personnel carriers, turned over to the separatists. We know that there are Russians who are leaders of the separatists. Some, not all. Some. And we know that the Russians have armed the separatists, trained the separatists, support the separatists, and have, to date, not publicly called on the separatists to stand down or to be part of the solution.”

John Kerry also continued to press for a fully transparent investigation into the shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines plane on Thursday, and said that “we hope this is a wake-up call for some countries in Europe that have been reluctant to move” on sanctions for Russia.

[photo: DesInformado.net]