298 people were killed on Thursday when a Malaysia Airlines passenger was shot down over eastern Ukraine
An armed pro-Russian separatist stands on part of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014. The Malaysian airliner flight MH-17 was brought down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 295 people aboard and sharply raising stakes in a conflict between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels in which Russia and the West back opposing sides. (REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev)Questions remain and an international investigation is being demanded nearly twenty-four hours after a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was shot down over Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 298 people on board.
Traveling between Amsterdam and Kuala Lapur, the downing of Flight MH17 has been met with shared mourning around the world as well as highly-pitched accusations over who, in fact, was responsible for firing on the aircraft.
Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, expressed his horror and grief as he said his country would launch an immediate investigation into what happened to the aircraft.
Reports indicate that among the total victims: 173 were Dutch nationals; 44 were Malaysians; 27 were Australians; 12 were Indonesians, nine are believed to be from the UK; four each from Germany and Belgium; three from the Philippines; and one each from both Canada and New Zealand.
The nationalities of 20 passengers, as if this writing, have not yet been verified.
Malaysian officials have repeatedly said that the flight path used by the plane was approved by international aviation agencies as safe, but now all international airlines are avoiding the airspace over eastern Ukraine.
According to Reuters:
Two U.S. officials said Washington strongly suspected the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was downed by a sophisticated surface-to-air missile fired by Ukrainian separatists backed by Moscow.
There were no survivors from Thursday’s crash, which left wreckage and bodies scattered across miles of rebel-held territory near the border with Russia.
Makeshift white flags marked where bodies lay in corn fields and among the debris. Others, stripped bare by the force of the crash, had been covered by polythene sheeting weighed down by stones, one marked with a flower in remembrance.
The scale of the disaster could prove a turning point for international pressure to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, which has killed hundreds since pro-Western protests toppled the Moscow-backed president in Kiev in February and Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula a month later.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk described the attack as an “international crime” and said the perpetrators should ultimately face an international tribunal.
The Wall Street Journal adds:
U.S. agencies are divided over whether the missile was launched by the Russian military or by pro-Russia separatist rebels, who officials say lack the expertise on their own to bring down a commercial airliner in midflight. Ukraine, which also has sophisticated antiaircraft weaponry, said it hadn’t shot any such missiles at any time during the conflict.
On Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur appeared to have been shot down. She said that though it wasn’t clear who did so, Russia bore responsibility for events in Ukraine and Moscow “must do its part to calm the situation.”
As the Guardian reports, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made some of the most “potent remarks” against Russia, stating in a television interview that there were strong indications that Russian-backed militias were to blame. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Clinton said, must be put “on notice that he has gone too far and we are not going to stand idly by.”
For his part, Putin has suggested that the Ukraine military may have been the culprit but also backed calls for a full investigation into the tragedy. On Friday, he urged all separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine as well the Ukrainian military to lay down their arms and renew diplomatic negotiations to end their months-long standoff.
“Peace in Ukraine must prevail as soon as possible,” said Putin, according to Russian news agencies, as he called for direct talks between Kiev and pro-Russian insurgents.