Members of the United Nations Security Council condemned the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 on Friday during an urgent session, calling for a full, thorough and independent international investigation.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told council members that the evidence indicates the plane was shot down.
“We assess Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 carrying these 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was likely downed by a surface-to-air missile, an SA-11, operated from a separatist-held location in eastern Ukraine," Powers said.
Russian-backed separatists have claimed responsibility for shooting down several Ukrainian military aircraft, including a transport plane in June that killed 49 persons, and this week a military cargo plane and a fighter jet.
Power said because of the technical complexity of operating the SA-11 system, it is unlikely that the rebels could have done it without assistance from knowledgeable personnel.
“Thus we cannot rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel in operating the systems," she said.
Ukrainian envoy Yuriy Sergeyev told the council that the separatists have “at least” two of these surface-to-air missile systems.
“The question is, where did they get this sophisticated air defense system from," Sergeryev asked.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin agreed the need for an impartial investigation of the circumstances of the jet’s crash, but stressed its outcome should not be prejudged.
He did not mention pro-Russian separatist rebels in the area and whether they might have been involved, instead he blamed Kyiv, saying the authorities are responsible for the safety of the airspace.
“Why did the Ukrainian aviation dispatcher send a passenger flight to an area of military clashes," Churkin asked. "An area which was being used for carrying out strikes against civilian targets, amongst others, and where there were anti-aircraft systems working?”
He said the United States and other Western nations share blame for the crash, saying it pushed Kyiv to escalate the crisis.
Envoys of the nine countries who had citizens aboard the flight also addressed the Security Council. Australia, which currently sits on the council, urged fellow members to adopt a resolution demanding unhindered access to the crash site and for a full, thorough and independent investigation.
Netherlands, which lost 189 nationals aboard the flight, echoed that call.
Ambassador Karel van Oosterom said it is “a dark hour” for his country and they are a nation “in shock and in tears,” but determined to seek the truth about what happened.
World Leaders Comment on MH17
Vice President Joe Biden: ``(The plane) apparently has been shot down - shot down, not an accident, blown out of the sky.''
President Vladimir Putin: ``This tragedy would not have happened if there had been peace on that land, or in any case if military operations in southeastern Ukraine had not been renewed. And without doubt, the government of the territory on which it happened bears responsibility for this frightening tragedy. We will do everything that we can so that an objective picture of what happened can be achieved. This is a completely unacceptable thing.''
German Chancellor Angela Merkel: ``We need to start an independent investigation as quickly as possible. A ceasefire is needed for that and it's important that those responsible are bought to justice. There are many indications that the plane was shot down, so we have to take things very seriously. (I am making) a very clear call for the Russian president and government to make their contribution to bringing about a political solution.''
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak: ``If it transpires that the plane was indeed shot down, we insist that the perpetrators must swiftly be brought to justice.''
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko: ``(The) tragedy showed again that terrorism is not localized, but a world problem. And the external aggression against Ukraine is not just our problem, but a threat to European and global security.''
Aleksandr Borodai, Prime Minister of the self proclaimed 'Donetsk People's Republic: ``Apparently, it's a passenger airliner ... truly shot down by the Ukrainian Air Force.''
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott: ``We all know that there are problems in Ukraine. We also know who is very substantially to blame for those problems, and the idea that Russia can somehow say that none of this had anything to do with them because it happened in Ukrainian air space frankly does not stand up to any serious scrutiny.''