Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday blamed the Ukrainian government for the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, saying the state bears some responsibility for fighting that may have led to the jet’s apparent downing by a surface-to-air missile.
“I would like to point out in this regard, that this tragedy would not have occurred if there was peace in that land, at least, if hostilities had not resumed in the South-East of Ukraine,” Putin said. “And without question, the state over whose territory this took place, bears responsibility for this awful tragedy.”
The Boeing 777-200 carrying 298 passengers and crew crashed while flying over a part of eastern Ukraine near the Russian border that is essentially a war zone between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists. U.S. officials are confident the jet was shot down by a surface-to-air missile, and the Associated Press reported that Soviet-era Buk missile systems had been seen on the ground in a separatist-controlled area of eastern Ukraine.
Putin pledged that Russia would “provide all necessary assistance in the investigation of this crime,” and observed a minute of silence for the victims.