- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says there still must be “normal” U.S.-Russian relations with President Vladimir Putin in power but that the United States and world leaders must hold him to account for his handling of the downing of a Malaysian jetliner.

“Putin has been caught in the web of his own lies — he has made up the whole story from the very beginning,” Ms. Albright said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “And now he is trying to figure out how to explain to his people that all the things he’s been saying about the Ukrainians and who started what are absolutely lies.”

Ukraine and pro-Russia rebels have both blamed one another for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 last week. Remains of victims from the flight arrived in the government-held Ukrainian city of Kharkiv Tuesday en route to the Netherlands following clashes between site inspectors and the pro-Russia separatists that many, including President Obama, have blamed for impeding the investigation of the crash site in eastern Ukraine.

Rebels also have reportedly turned over “black box” data recorders from the flight to Malaysia officials, and the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution Monday calling for the separatists to allow investigators full access to the crash site.

Mr. Putin now has a significant choice, Ms. Albright said.

“So he did have a moment — the question is, is he more concerned about his internal popularity, or does he understand that he has really, completely missed the boat in terms of taking this moment …?” she said. “I think we need to push. I think the president and the other leaders have to keep calling him on this. He is responsible for this — he is the one who has to get some kind of control over the rebels and, in fact, admit that what he’s done in the area is the cause of it and not the west or the CIA or [Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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