December 20, 2014
Kerry makes US case against Russia over MH17 downing
Secretary of State John Kerry today laid out what he said was overwhelming evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of a Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine as he made the US case against Moscow in the most emphatic and explicit terms yet.
In a blitz of US morning news shows, Kerry demanded that Russia take responsibility for actions of allied separatists suspected of shooting down the passenger plane and he expressed disgust over the rebels' "grotesque" mishandling of victims' bodies at the crash site.
Kerry also threatened "additional steps" against Moscow and called on European allies, who have lagged behind Washington in imposing sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, to take Thursday's tragedy as a "wake-up call" to take a tougher stand against Russia.
While stopping short of placing direct blame on Moscow for the shootdown, Kerry put forth the most pointed and detailed US accusations so far that Russia provided pro-Moscow insurgents with the sophisticated anti-aircraft systems used to down the aircraft.
Kerry said the United States has seen major supplies moving into Ukraine from Russia in the last month, including a 150-vehicle convoy of armored personnel carriers, tanks and rocket launchers transferred to the separatists several weeks ago.
"It's pretty clear that this is a system that was transferred from Russia," Kerry said in an interview.
Kerry said the United States intercepted conversations about the transfer to separatists of the Russian SA-11 radar-guided SA11 missile system it blames for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
US authorities also have seen a video of a missile launcher - with a least one rocket missing from its battery - moving back into Russia from a rebel-held area, Kerry said.
"There's enormous amount of evidence, even more evidence that I just documented, that points to the involvement of Russia in providing these systems, training the people on them," Kerry said to local media.
Moscow denies involvement and has accused the Ukrainian military in the shootdown that killed 298 people.
Kerry's remarks reflected Washington's growing anger with Russia over the crash, which is widely seen a potential turning point in the Ukraine crisis that has taken relations between Russia and the West to a post-Cold War low.