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Saying that pro-Russian separatists' behavior "has no place in the community of nations," President Barack Obama said on Monday that "the burden is on Russia" to push the separatists to allow unfettered access to the crash site of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17.

"We have to make sure that the truth is out and that accountability exists," he said in remarks at the White House.

"Given its direct influence over the separatists, Russia -- and President Putin in particular -- has direct responsibility to compel them to cooperate with the investigation," he added. "That is the least that they can do."

The international community has ramped up pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to allow investigators access to the site and the bodies of the nearly 300 victims of last week’s Malaysian Airlines crash. Armed pro-Russian separatists who control the area have "repeatedly" prevented investigators from doing their work, Obama said.

"All of this begs the question: What exactly are they trying to hide?" the president asked.

In a brief statement Monday, Putin said that investigators must have access to the crash site but excoriated unnamed nations for exploiting the jet crash for “mercenary political goals.”



- Carrie Dann