News / Europe

Ukraine Halts Offensive to Help Experts Reach Crash Site

  • An armed pro-Russian separatist (left) and a man examine fragments of spent ammunition in central Donetsk, July 29, 2014.
  • A woman walks out of a damaged multi-story block of flats carrying her belongings following what locals say was recent shelling by Ukrainian forces, in central Donetsk, July 29, 2014.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin (center) heads the cabinet meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow, Russia, July 30, 2014.
  • Alexander Hug (center), deputy head of the OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine, nex to armed pro-Russian separatists on the way to the site in eastern Ukraine where the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed, near Donetsk, July 30, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian rebels travel past a convoy of the OSCE mission in Ukraine outside the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, July 30, 2014.
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (right) and Ukraine Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin hold a news conference at the State Department, in Washington, July 29, 2014.
  • People gather in an underground car park to seek safety from shelling in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, July 29, 2014.
  • President Barack Obama speaks about new sanctions imposed on Russia in Washington, DC, July 29, 2014.
VOA News

Ukraine has announced a one-day halt in its fight against separatists in eastern Ukraine to allow international investigators to reach the downed Malaysian airliner's crash site.

Kyiv said the move Thursday was in response to a plea by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to stop fighting near the crash site.

Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have tried several times to access the area but have had to turn back because of safety concerns.

Ban told reporters Wednesday that he is "deeply disturbed" that investigators have not been able to access the site. He said key evidence remains in the area and noted that the bodies of the crash victims have not all been found.

Families of the victims of the crash, which killed 298 people July 17, are anxious for investigators to reach the scene.  Some human remains are believed still at the site, after about 200 sets of remains were transferred to the Netherlands for identification last week.

Speaking during a visit to the Netherlands, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Thursday called for an" immediate cessation of hostilities in eastern Ukraine." He also stressed that investigators need to be given full access to the crash site.

U.S. analysts say the Malaysia Airlines plane - downed over eastern Ukraine - was destroyed by a Russian missile likely fired by rebels who believed the aircraft was Ukrainian.

New sanctions go into effect

Meanwhile, Russia's central bank is promising to support financial institutions hit by new sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union aimed at punishing Russia for its support of the separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The bank on Wednesday promised to "take adequate measures'' to support institutions affected by the sanctions.

Stock markets in Moscow opened lower Wednesday as the the measures against Russia's banking, oil and defense sectors went into effect.

Announcing new U.S. sanctions targeting Russia's energy, financial and defense sectors, President Barack Obama linked the new penalties to the shootdown of the Malaysian airliner. U.S. analysts say the plane downed over eastern Ukraine was destroyed by a Russian missile likely fired by rebels who believed the aircraft was Ukrainian.

In Brussels meanwhile, ambassadors from the 28-member European Union agreed to new penalties on Russia, including an arms embargo and a ban on trade of equipment for the Russian oil and defense sectors.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the EU measures against Moscow were "unavoidable."

It is not clear what further actions the U.S. and Europe are willing to take if the situation remains unchanged.

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said there is not a "shred of evidence" Russia seeks to end the violence and bloodshed in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking during a joint appearance in Washington with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, Kerry again called for Russia to use its "considerable influence" with separatists in eastern Ukraine to ensure that the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine is secured.  He accused the separatists blocking access to the site where the airliner crashed earlier this month.

The U.S. secretary of state also said there is "clear evidence" of rocket and artillery fire from Russian territory into Ukraine.

Klimkin stressed the importance of reaching a cease-fire with the pro-Russian rebels, with the aim of restoring Ukraine's territorial integrity.

Their comments came as tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalated, with Moscow accusing Kyiv of a cross-border attack and committing "war crimes" in eastern Ukraine.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP, and Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
by: gen from: japan
July 30, 2014 2:40 PM
The sanction over Russia is two merits for Mr.Obama.This year November, the midterm election is held in US. Now Mr.Obama is attacked by the republicans about his negative foreign he would want to show the positive stance.and if the US economy would be sluggish, he could blame the sanction effects.It would be a excuse for US economy. If the economy would be bad,Obama have only to say the sanction effect.

by: gen from: japan
July 30, 2014 2:18 PM
If it is true that the separatists set landmines on the crash site,they would want to avoid the evidence contaminated by Ukraine.Ukraine would make fake evidence for getting their advantages and for making EU upset. To make Russia isolate is a important strategy of Ukraine.

by: Peter from: USA
July 30, 2014 1:34 PM
I see a pattern of misinformation here. Yesterday, I read the International Observers were escorted by Pro-Russia separatists. They were unable to enter the area because Ukrainian government is attacking pro-russia separatists that were controlling the crash site. VOA is writing something not sanguine here.
In Response

by: Ivan from: Russia
July 30, 2014 11:18 PM
the way that US has "clear evidence" shows only that they have no evidences at all. UA forses continue shellings of civilians inspite of KIew's ceasefire announcement.

by: Tony from: Dallas
July 30, 2014 1:15 PM
Iran Air Flight 655 was an Iran Air civilian passenger flight from Tehran to Dubai that was shot down by the United States Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes on 3 July 1988. The incident took place in Iranian airspace, over Iran's territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, and on the flight's usual flight path. The aircraft, an Airbus A300 B2-203, was destroyed by SM-2MR surface-to-air missiles fired from the Vincennes. All 290 on board, including 66 children and 16 crew, died. This event ranks seventh among the deadliest disasters in aviation history.
Yet no sanctions on the US.

by: Fahrie from: Turkey
July 30, 2014 10:25 AM
I don't see any problem. If West (so to speak meaning USA and EU) deliberately put sanctions on Russia, then Russia must harm to West in any possible way. Thats fair

by: Dr. Ulyanov from: Moscow
July 30, 2014 8:41 AM
actually Russia is elated by the cascade of idiotic decisions made by Obama. China is firmly on our side, Brazil is part of our economic alternative, India can't stand the USA any more... and the jewel in the crown - Israel - which had been repeatedly betrayed by Obama - begins to form our unique intellectual foundation. We are very happy in Russia - thank you for asking...
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
July 30, 2014 12:30 PM
Hey Doc.... Wait till Putin and all you Russians receive the ultimate US sanction, a lifetime ban from "Disney Land" and Hollywood, (but the ban could be lifted), if Putin gets on his knees and apologizes and stops helping those pro-Russian guys, and also gives Crimea back..... We're not joking !!!!!

PS; .. Somebody said Nikita Khrushchev cried out before he died, (the cruelest thing that ever happened to me, was when America barred me from seeing Mickey and Minnie Mouse in Disney Land), and then he died...... (and now), the Russian peoples outcry from this "Disney Land" threat of being banned, may force Putin to repent and give back Crimea, do you think?

by: Wycliffe from: Nairobi
July 30, 2014 6:17 AM
.....and should after things remain unchanged by those estimated three to four months, we -EU & US declear war on Russia? This's the way to go hence avoid future unbarable costs.Yah! dehorn him -Putin as Romania prezo expressed his concern.

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