Kerry calls on Russia to take action after Malaysia plane downing

by Reuters
Sunday, 20 July 2014 14:07 GMT

(Adds quotes)

WASHINGTON, July 20 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry demanded on Sunday that Russia "step up" and take responsibility for the actions of allied separatists in Ukraine who are suspected of shooting down a Malaysian passenger plane last week.

Kerry said the United States has seen major supplies moving into Ukraine from Russia in the last month, including a 150-vehicle convoy of armored personnel carriers, tanks and rocket launchers transferred to the separatists several weeks ago.

"It's pretty clear that this is a system that was transferred from Russia," Kerry said in an interview on CNN.

Kerry said the United States intercepted conversations about the transfer to separatists of the Russian SA-11 radar-guided SA11 missile system it blames for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on Thursday.

Moscow accuses the Ukrainian military in the shootdown that killed 298 people.

Kerry's remarks reflected Washington's growing anger with Russia over the crash.

In appearances on a string of Sunday news shows, Kerry called on Moscow to publicly seek responsible action from the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, including access to the crash site.

"The separatist are in control," Kerry said on NBC's "Meet the Press" program. "And it is clear that Russia supports the separatists, supplies the separatist encourages the separatists trains the separatists and Russia needs to step up and make a difference here."

Kerry, who spoke to his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in a phone call on Saturday, expressed outrage over the chaotic scenes in the aftermath of the crash.

He said foreign investigators have been given only limited access to the crash site, 75 minutes on Friday and three hours on Saturday, despite the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin had promised unfettered access.

"Drunken separatists have been piling bodies into trucks and removing them from the site," Kerry said on NBC. "What's happening is really grotesque and it is contrary to everything president Putin and Russia said they would do." (Reporting by Jim Loney, Doina Chiacu, Ayesha Rascoe; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.