US says MH17 disaster is “moment of truth” for Russia

Washington demands Moscow end alleged support for Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin rebels

US secretary of state John Kerry: Said there was “a build-up of extraordinary circumstantial evidence” to suggest the separatist militants were to blame. Photograph: EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

US secretary of state John Kerry: Said there was “a build-up of extraordinary circumstantial evidence” to suggest the separatist militants were to blame. Photograph: EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

Mon, Jul 21, 2014, 01:03

The United States has launched a stinging attack on Russia for allegedly aiding rebels Washington believes shot down an airliner over Ukraine last week, telling the Kremlin it faces “a moment of truth” in the eyes of the world.

Secretary of state John Kerry said there was “a build-up of extraordinary circumstantial evidence” to suggest the separatist militants were to blame for the death of 298 people when a Malaysia Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was brought down on Thursday.

“We picked up the imagery of this launch. We know the trajectory. We know where it came from. We know the timing,” he said, adding that the US believed a 150-vehicle convoy of armoured vehicles and rocket launchers had crossed from Russia into insurgency-hit eastern Ukraine a few weeks ago.

“It’s pretty clear that this is a system that was transferred from Russia,” Mr Kerry said of the SA-11 missile system that Washington believes brought down flight MH17.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has said Ukraine must take responsibility for a disaster in its airspace, and some Moscow officials and rebels in eastern Ukraine have blamed Kiev’s armed forces for downing the plane. Mr Kerry flatly rejected such suggestions.

“The separatists are in control” of parts of eastern Ukraine, he said.