The international crisis swirling around the shooting down by a Russia Buk anti-air missile of the Malaysian passenger flight Boeing 777 over E. Ukraine, killing all 298 people aboard, deepened further Saturday, July 19. Washington is trying to establish whether Moscow supplied the pro-Russian separatists with the lethal missile, whereas the Europeans accuse them of preventing international observers obtaining access to the crash site near their village of Rozsypne.
As teams from Europol and Interpol head to Ukraine to identify the bodies of the plane crash victims, European officials and Kiev say they don’t trust the rebel authorities’ post mortem examinations and demand international tests to ensure evidence has not been removed that might betray who fired the fatal missile.
Adding to the confusion, international aviation authorities are refusing to issue a blanket ban on civil flights over east Ukraine, maintaining that it is up to every airline to decide for itself whether a flight path is hazardous.
A pro-Russian rebel leader, in an attempt to deflect Western fury and suspicion toward Kiev, argued that Ukrainian air defense commanders were notoriously trigger happy, as they demonstrated in October 2001, when they shot down and OJSC Siberia Airlines passenger plane flying from Israel to Novosibirsk. The plane was downed over the Black Sea and none of the 66 people on board survived.
Moscow has called on the Ukrainian government and the rebel leaders to give international experts access to the crash site.