The downing of a Malaysia Air jetliner has transformed Ukraine’s worst crisis in more than two decades of independence into a “world-wide problem,” Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said.
“This is not a war between just Ukraine and Russia,” Yatsenyuk said late yesterday in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “This is a crime against humanity. We all have to realize that we have to stop this mess. After the tragedy, this is not a local conflict.”
Yatsenyuk, who took over as premier after a popular uprising ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych in February, said Russia must “withdraw agents” from Ukraine, condemn “terrorists” and restore control over the two nation’s common border to win a cease-fire after months of separatist violence.
The missile that downed flight MH17 on July 17, killing all 298 people on board, came from an area held by pro-Russian insurgents, President Barack Obama said yesterday. The fighters who’ve taken over swathes of Ukraine’s easternmost regions are battling government troops in a conflict that’s sparked tensions between Russia, the U.S and Europe not seen since the Cold War.
As of 7 a.m. today, 186 bodies were found, Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Andriy Lysenko told journalists today.
Ukraine says Russia is supplying the rebels with weapons and equipment, accusations the Kremlin denies. Ukraine also blames the separatists for firing the missile at the Malaysian airliner, while Russia says it came from Ukraine’s army.
Separatists obtained “at least” three so-called Buk missile systems, said Vitaliy Nayda, an official at Ukraine’s state security service. The mobilized weapons launchers were transported back to Russia on July 18, Nayda said. The launcher that fired the rocket at the plane was operated by personnel with special training from Russia, he said.
“Terrorists, aided by Russia, are concealing evidence from the crash site,” Ukraine’s government said today in a statement on its website. “Terrorists removed 38 of the dead from the crash to Donetsk, where experts with clear Russian language said they would do autopsy themselves.”
Separatists did not provide full access to the site for OSCE inspectors.
“There is a lot of security here, with many heavily armed people,” OSCE spokesman Michael Bociurkiw said in a phone briefing from the site near Torez, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the Russian border. “We are being carefully watched.”
While Yatsenyuk praised U.S. efforts to sanction Russian companies and individuals and said more measures may be needed to stem Russia’s role in the crisis, he said Ukraine is open to international help in resolving the conflict.
“First we need to de-escalate the situation and to make real steps,” he said. “It is fair to say it is high time for Russia to stop support the terrorists.”
The plane was shot down hours after the U.S. and the European Union imposed further sanctions on Russia. The EU today published its legal decision on sanctions, which allows it to announce list of targeted entities by end-July.