The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame.
Strewn across the conflict zone of eastern Ukraine, the belongings of 298 innocent civilians - vacationers, business travelers, families and crew. Victims, it appears, of the conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels playing out 10,000 meters below.
Given the plane’s altitude, military analysts suspect that Russian-made SA-11 BUK missiles like these were used to shoot it down.
This video supplied by Ukraine’s Interior Ministry purports to show a ‘BUK’ launcher heading back towards Russia from rebel held-territory Friday. One missile is absent.
US President Barack Obama called the incident an outrage.
“The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile from territory that is controlled by Russian-backed separatists inside of Ukraine. We also know that this is not the first time that a plane has been shot down in eastern Ukraine,” he said.
Ukraine’s prime minister placed the blame squarely on Russian-backed separatists.
“We have started an independent investigation and called on governments of [foreign] countries to hold an international investigation into this tragedy that is without doubt an act of terrorism," he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin denied any involvement - and blamed the crash on Ukraine.
“Of course, the state on whose territory this happened carries the responsibility for this terrible tragedy,” he said.
It is the second tragedy to hit Malaysia Airlines this year after the disappearance of Flight MH370 in March. Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, echoed the calls for justice.
“If it transpires that the plane was indeed shot down, we insist that the perpetrators must swiftly be brought to justice,” said Razak.
189 of the victims were Dutch nationals. Prime Minister of The Netherlands Mark Rutte pledged a full investigation.
“The darkest scenario has become true; we have been hit by one of the biggest air disasters in Dutch history. The whole of the Netherlands is in shock," he said.
Around 100 of the passengers were on their way to an AIDS conference in Australia. The Australian Prime Minister said Russia must not be allowed to stand in the way of a full inquiry.
The conflict in Ukraine has touched all corners of the world at appalling human cost. There could also be a high diplomatic price to pay.