Russian President Vladimir Putin Comments on Malaysian Airliner Crash in Late-Night Video Address
He put the blame for the tragedy on the resumption of a military operation in Eastern Ukraine in late June, following a weeklong cease-fire.
MOSCOW -- In a video address released late on Sunday by his press service, Russian President Vladimir Putin made his first official comment about last Friday's crash of the Malaysian airliner in Ukraine.
"We have repeatedly called upon all conflicting sides to stop the bloodshed immediately and sit down at the negotiating table," Putin said in the address. “I can say with confidence that if military operations had not been resumed on June 28 in Eastern Ukraine, this tragedy wouldn’t have happened."
He was referring to a weeklong cease-fire, announced by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, which ended June 28.
Russian officials and pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine have repeatedly put the blame for resuming the military operation on Ukrainian authorities.
"It is vital to do everything possible to ensure safety of international experts' work on the site of the tragedy," Putin went on to say. "In the meantime, nobody should and has no right to use this tragedy to achieve their 'narrowly selfish' political goals."
According to Putin, Russia will do everything possible to make sure that the conflict in Eastern Ukraine will "transform from today's military phase to a phase of discussion at the negotiating table by exclusively peaceful and diplomatic means."
Since Friday's tragedy, which killed 298 people, Ukrainian authorities and the separatists have been accusing each other shooting down the Malaysian airliner.
Ukraine's interior minister, Arsen Avakov, used very strong language in a post on his Facebook account yesterday, responding to Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov's call for Ukrainian authorities to negotiate with the separatists.
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"Who are we going to negotiate with?" he wrote. "With Russian citizens [leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic Igor] Girkin and [Alexander] Boroday, who try to pass for 'rebellious Ukrainian people'? Why don't they just go f—k themselves, and we'll settle things by ourselves."
On Monday afternoon, Russia's defense ministry issued a statement saying that it detected a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet in the proximity of the crashed Malaysian Boeing. Russian military authorities also denied that they had provided the separatists with a Buk surface-to-air missile system.
Ukrainian authorities have insisted that the airliner was shot down by the separatists with a Buk-launched missile.