UK & World News

  • 18 July 2014, 9:44

Plane Tragedy Could Be Game Changer In Ukraine

If Russia in any way had a hand in flight MH17's fate, calls for Western governments to intensify their response to the crisis will be loud.

The terrible tragedy could be a game changer.

President Barack Obama's first words on the disaster were neutral.

"It looks like it may be a terrible tragedy," he said.

"Right now, we're working to determine whether there were American citizens onboard. That is our first priority.

"And I've directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government." 

His Vice President's response was less delicate.

Joe Biden said it was not an accident and that the plane had been "blown out of the sky". 

Mr Biden and Mr Obama have made phone calls to the Malaysian and Ukrainian leaders offering their support.

The US had been expressing concern that Russia was increasing its military support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Its response was more sanctions which have only compounded the frosty relations between Presidents Obama and Vladimir Putin.

The two leaders spoke on the phone on Thursday about those latest sanctions. Russia calls them "primitive revenge".

Pressure is mounting on the EU to follow Washington's lead in further penalties for Russia. Britain is calling for an independent investigation into the crash with Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond calling for a UN-led inquiry.

So many countries have lost so many lives. The call for answers is global.

Australia is mourning 27 deaths. Its Prime Minister Tony Abbott said: "It is a terrible crime and if this is the case it is an unspeakable crime and obviously it reflects abominably on the people responsible. 

"We don't know at the moment what the situation is. There are all sorts of reports, all sorts of claims being made. If it does turn out that this plane was brought down by a surface to air missile that is an unspeakable crime."

Everything now rests on independently establishing the facts about the aircraft's last moments and what brought it down.

The chaotic environment where its wreckage lies will not make that easy.

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