- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 20, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said there’s strong evidence that the missile system used to bring down the Boeing 777 over territory in eastern Ukraine was transferred from Russia to separatists occupying the area but stopped short of assigning direct blame to Moscow for the downing of the plane.

“It’s pretty clear that this is a system that was transferred from Russia in the hands of separatists,” Mr. Kerry said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We know with confidence that the Ukrainians did not have such a system anywhere near the vicinity at that point in time, so it obviously points a very clear finger at the separatists.”

“And that’s why President Obama and the international community are demanding a full-fledged investigation, which Russia said they would do,” Mr. Kerry continued.

Asked if he believed Russia and President Vladimir Putin were “culpable” for the downing of the jetliner, Mr. Kerry responded that culpability is a “judicial term.”

“People can make their own judgments about what they read here,” he said. “That is why we’ve asked for a full-fledged investigation.”

He went on to describe the difficulties investigators have had on the scene in recent days.

“Today we have reports of drunken separatists piling the remains of people into trucks in an unceremonious fashion, actually removing them from the location,” he said. “They are interfering with the evidence in the location; they have moved, we understand, some airplane parts.”

“This is a very, very critical moment for Russia to step up publicly and join in the effort in order to make sure there is a full-fledged investigation, that the investigators and people who are coming to help from the outside,” he continued. “We want the facts. And the fact that the separatists are controlling this in a way that is preventing people from getting there even as the site is tampered with makes its own statement about culpability and responsibility.”

The Associated Press reported Sunday that Pro-Russian rebel leader Alexander Borodai said rebels have recovered the black boxes from the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and will turn them over to the International Civil Aviation Organization. Mr. Borodai denied that the separatists have interfered with the investigation and said bodies recovered from the crash site would remain in refrigerated train cars until an international aviation delegation arrived, according to the AP.

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