UK & World News

  • 20 July 2014, 22:18

Russia Faces Sanctions Over MH17 Crash

Prime Minister David Cameron has said Russia's "destabilisation" of eastern Ukraine has contributed to the "appalling tragedy" of flight MH17.

Mr Cameron spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin as European Union foreign ministers prepare to meet in order to discuss further sanctions on Moscow.

The gathering on Tuesday will be the first time they have met since the Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down over eastern Ukraine.

All 298 people on board the Boeing 777-200, including 10 Britons, were killed when it came down near the village of Grabovo, in eastern Ukraine on Thursday.

A Downing Street spokesperson said the Prime Minister, who will make a statement about the disaster in the House of Commons on Monday, told Mr Putin the priority should be getting experts to the crash site so evidence can be collected and bodies repatriated.

The spokesperson said: "The PM emphasised that the families of 298 individuals need to know that everything is being done to make this happen and called on President Putin to use his influence on the pro-Russian separatists to ensure this happens.

"The delay and restrictions so far were completely unacceptable and indefensible."

The PM told Mr Putin that the downing of the jet had "brought into sharp focus the consequences of destabilisation in eastern Ukraine", the spokesperson added.

Mr Cameron, along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, earlier talked about the need to secure the crash site.

In a Sunday Times piece, Mr Cameron called for a "moment of action" in response to the disaster.

"The growing weight of evidence points to a clear conclusion: that MH17 was blown out of the sky by a surface-to-air missile fired from a rebel-held area," he wrote.

"If it is the case, then we must be clear what it means: this is a direct result of Russia destabilising a sovereign state, violating its territorial integrity, backing thuggish militias, and training and arming them."

Ukrainian government officials have accused Russia of supplying the rebels with sophisticated military equipment and have claimed the Buk missile launcher that is blamed for shooting down MH17 has been relocated across the border into Russia.

Mr Cameron had also criticised some European partners for not being willing to act against Moscow. 

"For too long, there has been a reluctance on the part of too many European countries to face up to the implications of what is happening in eastern Ukraine," he wrote.