US to release more intel on downed jet

The U.S. intelligence community will release additional evidence about the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jet plane on Tuesday as the Obama administration looks to bolster support for additional sanctions against Russia over its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Officials from the Director of National Intelligence's office will unveil the evidence, the White House said.

“They’re the experts who can analyze this data and can be more effective in drawing a more conclusive case,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

The administration has already said they believe the plane was shot down by a Soviet-era surface-to-air missile shot from rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine. Separatists and the Russian government have denied responsibility, and suggested that the Ukrainian military may have been responsible for the crash.

Separately, President Obama travelled to the Dutch embassy in Washington to sign a condolences book for the 298 victims of the crash, which was shot down en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam. 

Obama said that he wanted to “express our solidarity with the people of the Netherlands” and added that “we will work with them to make sure their loved ones are recovered" and justice is done.

The moves came as European Union officials were weighing additional sanctions against Russia over its involvement in the crisis.

Early reports suggested that European officials had agreed to impose new sanctions against specific individuals in Russia deemed responsible for supporting the Ukrainian separatists, but stopped short of broader sectoral sanctions.

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans told The Associated Press that the Europeans had agreed to impose visa bans and asset freezes on a dozen Russian officials, and prepare sectoral sanctions targeting the arms, energy and financial sectors in Russia to trigger if Moscow does not de-escalate the situation. 

"We certainly would welcome additional steps from the international community, principally our allies in Western Europe, that would impose additional economic costs in Russia," Earnest said. "We, for rather obvious reasons, think that those additional costs are justified."
The White House spokesman said unilateral action by the United States also continued to be a "live option."
Obama has been engaged in “intensive discussions” with western European leaders “about the sanctions regime that should be put in place to further isolate Russia,” Earnest said.

Earnest said additional steps being contemplated by Russia were a way to “compel” cooperation from Moscow, and did not believe they would lead the Kremlin to dig in on its support for the rebels.