British Prime Minister David Cameron has demanded that Vladimir Putin ends his support for Russian separatists in Ukraine and stops his attempts to destabilise the country. The comments came in his statement to the House of Commons on the shooting down of Malaysian Airways flight MH17.
The Prime Minister claimed to have evidence that Russia was training separatists at a facility in the South West of Russia. He said this training included how to use “air defence systems”, similar to those believed to have been used to attack MH17.
He added that what was taking place in Ukraine was a “conflict that could have been curtailed by Moscow [but] has instead been fomented by Moscow.” The Prime Minister’s statement is the latest in an increasingly angry dispute about the killing of 298 people, including around 80 children on the civilian flight.
The statement follows the comments by the newly appointed Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon who accused the Russian leader of “sponsoring terror”.
In the Commons, Mr Cameron told MPs that he had spoken to Putin and told him: “We expect Russia to end its support for the separatists and their attempts to further destabilise Ukraine. No-one is saying that President Putin intended flight MH17 to be shot down.
“It is unlikely that even the separatists wanted this to happen. But we should be absolutely clear about what caused this terrible tragedy to happen.
“The context for this tragedy is Russia’s attempt to destabilise a sovereign state, violate its territorial integrity and arm and train thuggish militias.
“Over the past month there has been an increasing amount of heavy weaponry crossing the border from Russia to separatist fighters in Ukraine. And there is evidence that Russia has been providing training to separatist fighters at a facility in south west Russia – including training on air defence systems.”
Putin is looking increasingly isolated in the world as outrage spreads over the shooting down of the aircraft and Western leaders appear in no mood for compromise. However, with the military and economic might that Russia holds, it is hard to see what they can do to stop him.
But Cameron said if Russia does not change course: “we must be clear that Europe will keep increasing pressure. Russia cannot expect to continue enjoying access to European markets, European capital, European knowledge and technical expertise while she fuels conflict in one of Europe’s neighbours.”
He continued: “We must do what is necessary to stand up to Russia and put an end to the conflict in Ukraine before any more innocent lives are lost.”