State Department: Blame for downed plane ‘lies directly’ with Putin

 

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf on Wednesday said blame for the crashed Malaysian Airlines flight "lies directly at President [Vladimir] Putin's feet," as the Obama administration looked to raise pressure Russia.

Harf said Putin was responsible not just for the downed commercial airliner, "but every incident we've seen” throughout the conflict. "Period."

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"Direct responsibility lays there," she continued, adding that pro-Russian separatists "wouldn't be there doing what they're doing" without the support of Moscow. 

U.S. officials believe Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was brought down by a surface-to-air missile fired in territory controlled by pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine, killing all 300 on board.

Nearly a week after the flight was shot down by Russian militants, Harf told reporters at the State Department briefing on Wednesday that investigators are still trying to figure out the motives of the culprits. 

"We just don't know what their intentions are," Hard said, adding that the investigation will continue so "we could hold the people who did it accountable."

Officials on Tuesday shared new intelligence and said that Russia was responsible for creating the conditions leading to the plane crash, but did not provide direct evidence of Moscow's involvement.

Harf also said that investigators are being given "better access" in Ukraine at the crash site.

The area is controlled by pro-Russian militants who initially blocked access to international investigators and delayed returning the victims' bodies.

Harf added that the U.S. is "troubled" by reports of looting at the site.

The Obama administration has pressured Moscow to ensure that local militants allow free access to investigators and do not impede any probe.