On Meet The Press, Secretary of State John Kerry said evidence shows the pro-Russian forces in east Ukraine shot down Malaysia Airlines MH17 on Thursday.
“Several weeks ago, about a 150-vehicle convoy, including armored personnel carriers, tanks, rocket launchers, artillery, all going in and being transferred to the separatists,” he said. “We know that they had an SA-11 system in the vicinity, literally hours before the shoot-down took place. There are social media records of that. They were talking, and we have the intercepts of their conversations, talking about the transfer and movement and repositioning of the SA-11 system. The social media showed them with this system moving through the very area where we believe the shoot-down took place, hours before it took place.”
On June 30, NATO told the world Russia supplied and trained the pro-Russians with anti-aircraft equipment. Plus, the rebels have shot down numerous Ukrainian cargo planes the past week. After the crash, Ukraine’s security service released intercepted calls between the rebels with discussions about the plane.
Kerry said the administration has not fully confirmed Russia supplied the equipment, but it is hard to ignore the circumstantial evidence.
“But it’s pretty clear, when, you know, there’s a build-up of extraordinary circumstantial evidence,” he said. “You know, I’m a former prosecutor. I’ve tried cases on circumstantial evidence. It’s powerful here. But even more importantly, we picked up the imagery of this launch. We know the trajectory. We know where it came from. We know the timing. And it was exactly at the time that this aircraft disappeared from the radar. We also know, from voice identification, that the separatists were bragging about shooting it down afterwards.”
Chechens from Russia appeared in east Ukraine on May 25, which was the day of Ukraine’s presidential election. A month later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov admitted Moscow provides the rebels with “humanitarian aid” and one militia leader said the aid included military equipment. That same day Kiev said Russia moved three tanks into Ukraine and NATO confirmed the suspicion with satellite images.
“We need Russia to publicly, publicly, start to call for responsible action and itself take actions that they can take with the separatists that they have encouraged, they have inflamed, they have supplied, they have trained, and that are still engaged in a contest for the sovereignty of Ukraine itself,” Kerry said. “Russia said they would respect the sovereignty of Ukraine.”
“This is a moment of truth for Mr. Putin and for Russia. Russia needs to step up and prove its bona fides, if there are any left, with respect to its willingness to put actions behind the words.”
Kerry mentioned the latest round of sanctions, which targeted Russia’s largest petroleum company Rosneft. He hopes the European Union will be tough on Russia as well.
“But we’ve made it clear, even as we do that, there’s no naiveté in what President Obama has done with respect to these very tough sanctions,” he said. “And the United States has been working diligently with Europe, trying to bring Europe along. They’ve included additional sanctions. We think, frankly, that they may need to be tougher.”
“And it may well be that the Dutch and others will help lead that effort, because this has to be a wakeup call to Europe that this has to change. We cannot continue with a dual-track policy where diplomacy is winding up with nice words and, you know, well-constructed communiqués and agreements, but then there’s a separate track where the same policy continues.”