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MH17 Downing: Russia Faces Fresh Sanctions

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Britain, Germany and France agreed on Sunday they should be ready to ratchet up sanctions on Russia over the downing of a Malaysian jet carrying 298 passengers when European foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Tuesday. US Secretary of State John Kerry also demanded that Russia "step up" and take responsibility for the actions of allied separatists in Ukraine who are suspected of shooting down a Malaysian passenger plane last week Ukraine on Sunday accused separatist rebels of hiding evidence that a Russian missile was used in the shooting down of the airline that has intensified a showdown between the Kremlin and Western powers.

Ministers should be ready to announce a fresh round of sanctions at a meeting of the European Union's Foreign Affairs Council, said a statement from British Prime Minister David Cameron's office, issued after calls with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"They ... agreed that the EU must reconsider its approach to Russia and that foreign ministers should be ready to impose further sanctions on Russia when they meet on Tuesday," the statement said.

The leaders also agreed to press Russian President Vladimir Putin to ensure investigators had free access to the crash site.

Before the jet crashed last week, EU leaders had already agreed to sanction some Russian companies and block new loans to Russia by multilateral lenders, but the measures still were less stringent than U.S. restrictions announced at the same time.

'Pariah State'
The 28-nation EU has been under pressure from the United States and Ukraine to take a harder line but some EU governments are wary of potential retaliation from Russia, the bloc's biggest energy supplier, if they imposed trade sanctions.

Speaking earlier on Sunday, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said that unless Moscow's position radically changed, Britain would be pushing more reluctant European states to agree to new sanctions.

He warned that Russia could end up in international isolation.

"Some of our European allies, have been less enthusiastic, and I hope that the shock of this incident will see them now more engaged, more willing to take the actions which are necessary to bring home to the Russians that when you do this kind of thing it has consequences," Hammond told the BBC.

In a separate interview, Hammond said Russia must use its influence over rebels to ensure safe access to the crash site and cooperate with international investigators.

"Russia risks becoming a pariah state if it does not behave properly," he said on Sky television.

He said information so far pointed strongly to the conclusion that the plane had been shot down from territory held by pro-Russian separatists and the missile was almost certainly supplied by Russia.

"The Russians have influence if not direct control over these people," he said.

"They have been supplying them, they have been supporting them, they have been providing them with succour. They cannot deny their responsibility for the acts that these people are carrying out.

Kerry Asks Russia To Take Responsibility
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States has seen major supplies moving into Ukraine from Russia in the last month, including a 150-vehicle convoy of armored personnel carriers, tanks and rocket launchers transferred to the separatists several weeks ago.

"It's pretty clear that this is a system that was transferred from Russia," Kerry said in an interview on CNN.

Kerry said the United States intercepted conversations about the transfer to separatists of the Russian SA-11 radar-guided SA11 missile system it blames for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on Thursday.

Moscow accuses the Ukrainian military in the shootdown that killed 298 people.

Kerry's remarks reflected Washington's growing anger with Russia over the crash.

In appearances on a string of Sunday news shows, Kerry called on Moscow to publicly seek responsible action from the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, including access to the crash site.

"The separatist are in control," Kerry said on NBC's "Meet the Press" program. "And it is clear that Russia supports the separatists, supplies the separatist encourages the separatists trains the separatists and Russia needs to step up and make a difference here."

Kerry, who spoke to his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in a phone call on Saturday, expressed outrage over the chaotic scenes in the aftermath of the crash.

He said foreign investigators have been given only limited access to the crash site, 75 minutes on Friday and three hours on Saturday, despite the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin had promised unfettered access.

"Drunken separatists have been piling bodies into trucks and removing them from the site," Kerry said on NBC. "What's happening is really grotesque and it is contrary to everything president Putin and Russia said they would do."

(Agencies)
 


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