MH17 black box recovered?
RAW VISION: Video shows a Ukrainian emergency worker carrying an object that may resemble a flight data recorder to a tent at the MH17 crash site.PT0M54S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3c9ke 620 349 July 20, 2014
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that "enormous amounts of evidence" indicated a Russian missile was used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, while Britain said Moscow faced "pariah" status and the threat of further economic sanctions.
US Secretary of State John Kerry says there is an "enormous" amount of evidence suggesting the missile that downed MH17 was Russian. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin
At the crash site, meanwhile, emergency workers started bagging dozens of bodies on Saturday; the remainder were removed on Sunday, with rescue workers using a crane to move wreckage to reach human remains trapped beneath. Empty, bloodstained military stretchers that had been used to carry the bodies lay beside the road.
Moscow denies involvement in shooting down the airliner and has blamed the Ukrainian military, but Washington and its allies point the finger at the pro-Russian separatists who have Moscow's backing and have been accused of obstructing access to the crash sites.
In a blitz of US morning news shows, Mr 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.
A part of the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 near Hrabove in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. Photo: Reuters
He 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 disaster, Mr 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.
He said the US had seen supplies moving into Ukraine from Russia in the past month, including a 150-vehicle convoy of armoured personnel carriers, tanks and rocket launchers given to the separatists.
Work at the crash site. Photo: Reuters
The US had also intercepted conversations about the transfer to separatists of the Russian radar-guided SA11 missile system it blames for the downing of the Boeing 777, he said.
"It's pretty clear that this is a system that was transferred from Russia."
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.
Members of the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry and medical personnel at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Photo: Reuters
"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," Mr Kerry said.
Britain, meanwhile, said Moscow could find itself isolated if it did not use its influence to ensure safe access to the crash sites and co-operate with international investigators.
"Russia risks becoming a pariah state if it does not behave properly," Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said.
The downing of the airliner has sharply escalated the crisis in Ukraine, and may mark a pivotal moment in international efforts to resolve a situation in which separatists in the Russian-speaking east have been fighting government forces since protesters in Kiev forced out a pro-Moscow president and Russia annexed Crimea.
European Union ministers should be ready to announce a fresh round of sanctions at a meeting of the EU's Foreign Affairs Council this week, said a statement from British Prime Minister David Cameron's office, issued after telephone calls with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"They ... agreed that the EU must reconsider its approach to Russia and that foreign ministers should be ready to impose further sanctions on Russia when they meet on Tuesday," the statement said.
The leaders also agreed to press Russian President Vladimir Putin to ensure investigators had free access to the crash site.
While Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko issued a renewed appeal for backing from the international community, some European nations, with an eye to their trade links with Russia, have been less enthusiastic about confronting Moscow.
The United Nations Security Council was considering a draft resolution to condemn the attack, demand armed groups allow access to the crash sites and call on states in the region to co-operate with an international investigation.
The Netherlands, whose citizens made up two-thirds of the 298 on the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, said it was "furious" about the manhandling of corpses strewn over open country and asked Ukraine for help to bring "our people" home.
US President Barack Obama said the disaster showed it was time to end the Ukraine conflict, while Germany called it Moscow's last chance to co-operate.
European powers seemed to swing behind Washington's belief that Russia's separatist allies were to blame. That might speed new sanctions on Moscow, without waiting for definitive proof.
As Ukraine accused separatist rebels of hiding evidence relating to the downing of the airliner, a pro-Russian separatist leader said items thought to be the stricken Boeing's "black boxes" were now in rebel hands.
With Western anger rising at the apparently disrespectful treatment of the bodies by the rebels controlling the widely spread crash sites, nearly 200 corpses were taken to be stored on a refrigerated train at Torez, 15 kilometres away.
"It's corpses. They brought the bodies overnight," a duty officer at the town's station said.
Officials from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe were able to inspect some of the railway wagons.