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Obama condemns Russia for the downed plane in Ukraine

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President Barack Obama has demanded that Russia stop supporting pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine after a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down by a surface-to-air missile that was launched from rebel territory. The jet was carrying almost three-hundred people from eleven different countries, all of whom died.

Obama has called the deaths “an outrage of unspeakable proportions”. While he stopped short of blaming Russia for the attack directly, he did call for a rapid and credible investigation into the matter. “We don’t have time for games,” he said. International observers said gunmen stopped them observing the site properly when they got there on Friday.

As the jet had come from Amsterdam it shouldn’t come as a surprise that over half of the passengers, 189 of them, were Dutch. The remaining passengers came from Malaysia (29), Australia (27), Indonesia (12), the United Kingdom (9), Germany (4), Belgium (4), the Philippines (3), Canada (1), and New Zealand (1). One of the Dutch passengers, however, had dual Dutch-American citizenship.

This incident has become pivotal in deteriorating relations between Russia and the West. While Obama ruled out the possibility of a United States military intervention, he said that he was prepared to tighten sanctions. He also called on Europe to copy the more robust penalties that the United States has already imposed on Russia. Russia, for its part, is furious at the implications that it was to blame for the incident and demanded that people not pre-judge the outcome of the investigation.

The scale of the disaster could prove a turning point for international pressure to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, which has killed hundreds since pro-Western protests toppled the Moscow-backed president in Kiev in February and Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula a month later. “This outrageous event underscores that it is time for peace and security to be restored in Ukraine,” Obama said, adding that Russia had failed to use its influence to curb rebel violence. Read more about the story here.

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