President Obama Wonders What Ukrainian Rebels Are ‘Trying to Hide’

U.S. president delivers remarks on access and accountability at the M17 crash scene in Ukraine.
17:41 | 07/21/14

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Transcript for President Obama Wonders What Ukrainian Rebels Are ‘Trying to Hide’
This is an ABC news special report a disaster in this. Malaysia airlines plane shot down. Good morning for those of you just joining us -- any robot we are interrupting programming because President Obama is about to deliver a statement. On the situation in Ukraine the bodies of the victims of down Malaysia flight seventeen. Essentially being held hostage in a massive Tug of war. International investigators are finally being allowed on the scene this morning. By those pro Russian separatists in Ukraine. Let's bring in ABC chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl at the White House right now -- Jonathan what are we expecting to hear from the president today. Good morning I'm Rick told the president will give an update into the investigation into what happened with that downing of Malaysian airlines flight seventy. An update on the investigation as -- the delicate diplomacy following it he White House is not directly pointed the finger at Russia in terms of -- blame for that. But it has come very close saying there's a wealth of circumstantial evidence including satellite imagery. Showing that the missile was launched from areas controlled by pro Russian -- rebels. Also video -- -- saddle up and missile launcher leaving that area with one of its missiles missing. And the president himself has made it clear that that is a sophisticated system that would require Russian training in other words there is a lot of circumstantial evidence here that the Russians were at the very least complicit in what happened. I expect the president will also look towards the united nations Security Council which is meeting later this afternoon. To talk about the need to keep that crash site. Secure for investigators the administration is deeply concerned. That there have been tampered there's tampering with the evidence -- -- the president making the walk from the Oval Office. Out to the South Lawn will be hearing from him right now. Good warrior -- Want to make a brief statement about the tragedy in Ukraine. Before I do -- I want -- note that secretary Kerry has departed for the Middle East. As I've said many times. Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket and -- attacks from Hamas. And as a result of its operations Israel has already done significant damage to hamas'. Terrorist infrastructure in Gaza. I've also said our. That we have serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian. Civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives. And that is why it now has to be our focus and the focus the international community. To bring about a cease fire that ends the fighting. And that can stop the deaths. Of innocent civilians both in Gaza and in -- so secretary Kerry will meet with allies and partners. I've instructed him to push for an immediate cessation of -- hostilities based on -- return to the November 2012 cease fire agreement. Between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The work will not be easy. Obviously. There. Are enormous. Passions involved in this and some very difficult. Strategic issues involved nevertheless. I've asked John to do everything he can -- to help facilitate. A cessation of hostilities. We don't want -- see any more civilians getting killed. -- respect to Ukraine. It's now been four days since Malaysian airlines flight seventeen was shot down. Over territory controlled by Russian backed separatists. In Ukraine. Over the last several days. Our hearts have been capsule would broken. As we've learned more about. The extraordinary. And beautiful lives that were lost. Men. Women and children. And infants. Who were killed so suddenly and so -- Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with their families around the -- we're going through. Just unimaginable grief. I've had the -- speak to a number of leaders around the world -- citizens. Were lost on this flight and all of them remain in the state of shock but frankly also in the state of outrage. Our immediate focus. Is on recovering. Those who were lost. Investigating. Exactly what happened. And putting forward the facts. We have to make -- that the truth is out. And that accountability exists. International investigators. Are on the ground they've been organized I've sent teams other countries sent teams. They are prepared -- organized to conduct what should be. The kinds of protocols and scouring. And collecting of evidence. That. Should follow any. International incidents like this and what they need right now is immediate and full access to the crash site. They need to be able to conduct a prompt and full and unimpeded. As well as transparent investigation. And recovery personnel have to do the solemn. And sacred work of recovering the remains. Of those who were lost. Ukrainian president -- Genco has declared a demilitarized zone around the crash site. As I said before you have international teams already in place prepared to conduct the investigation and recover. The remains of those who have been lost but unfortunately the Russian backed separatists who control the area continue to block the investigation. They've repeatedly prevented international investigators from gaining full access to the wreckage. -- investigators approached they fired the weapons into the air. -- separatists are removing evidence from the crash site all of which begs the question what exactly are trying to hide. Moreover these Russian backed separatists are removing bodies from the crash site. Often times without the care. That we would normally expect from a tragedy like this. This is an insult to those who have lost loved ones. That's the kind of behavior that has no place. In the community of nations. Now. Russia has extraordinary influence over the separate -- no one denies that. Russia has -- urge them on Russia has trained them. We know that Russia has armed them -- military equipment and weapons including anti aircraft weapons. Key separatist leaders are Russian citizens. So given its direct influence over the separate us. Russia and President -- in particular. Has direct responsibility to compel them to cooperate. With the investigation that is the least the -- -- President -- says. That he supports a full and fair investigation that I appreciate those words -- -- have to be supported my actions. The burden now is on Russia to insist that the separate -- stop tampering with the evidence. Grant investigators. Were already on the ground immediate full and unimpeded access to the crash site. The separate us and the Russian sponsors are responsible for the safety. Of the investigators doing their work. And along with our allies and partners. We will be working this issue at the United Nations today. More broadly as I've -- throughout. This crisis. And the crisis in Ukraine general. I've said this directly to President Putin as well as publicly my preference continues to be finding a diplomatic resolution. Within Ukraine. I believe that can still happen. That's my preference today and will continue to be my preference but. If Russia continues to violate Ukraine's sovereignty and -- back these separate us. And these separatist become more and more dangerous and now are risks not simply to the people inside of Ukraine. But the broader international community. That Russia will only further isolate itself from the international community and the cost for Russia's behavior will only continue to increase. Now it's time for President Putin and Russia. To pivot away from the strategy that they've been taken. And get serious about trying to resolve. Hostilities within Ukraine in a way that respects -- -- sovereignty and respects the right of the Ukrainian people to make their own decisions about their own lives. And time is of the essence. Our friends and allies need to be able to recover those who were lost that's the least we can -- That's the least that decency demands. Families deserve to be able to -- their loved ones to rest -- dignity. The world deserves to know exactly what happened. And the people of Ukraine deserve to determine their own future. Thanks. Thank -- throughout Iraq and the -- doesn't help. President Barack Obama they're leaving the South Lawn of the White House -- first addressing the Middle East crisis. Saying that he is sending secretary of state John Kerry to the Middle East trying to broker a cease fire. But then shifting his focus to the issue at hand the downed a Malaysian airlines flight. Saying that the focus now should be on the recovery of those bodies. And then allow on unfettered access to the international investigators to. That crash scene which has been forbidden so far or at least been monitored heavily. By pro Russian separate -- let's turn now to. The person we have on the ground now of course ABC chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran. -- -- -- at the crash scene for days now and -- talk about what the latest is with those bodies where are they. And what is the latest. -- finally there is word that those bodies will be leaving the crash site. And and that village nearby where there -- being stored in refrigerated box cars they will leave at 7 PM tonight just in in a little wild noon eastern time and they are going to. Car keys -- city that is under the control of the Ukrainian government where many international. Investigators including Malaysia's team and the US team are located so finally those bodies will be going to -- city a couple of hours from here. There will be forensic identification and then they will go home. So that step is being taken and we did see international investigators on the scene today. For the first time really getting more or less unfettered access to that site. Taking pictures to got a rough surveys of where that plane might have fallen apart on its way down to the ground. Although I did ask the lead investigator after these four days without -- unsecured. Is he confident that they will be able to determine what happened to the plane and he said simply I don't. No. -- daunting words -- chairman ran with the latest from Ukraine -- -- turnouts and ABC news chief investigative correspondent. Brian Ross and Brian -- -- what Terry was just saying people have likened this to having. Criminals in charge of a crime scene in terms of the investigation. Tell us what we're likely to be able to find -- when an an international investigators are likely to be able to uncover if the scene -- been tampered way. Well as President Obama sadly this question was what are they trying to hide. A most of the key evidence about who pulled the trigger on this will come not so much what's on the ground. But from the radar and signals intelligence that the US has been gathering. And pushing out and the evidence against the Russian separatist and perhaps the Russians themselves could continues to money. All right Brian Ross with the very latest there speaking -- down Malaysia flight seventeen let's head back out now to the White House. And -- chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl -- the very latest in the president's. Urging urging for access and accountability John. That's right and he said the world is -- state of outrage and a state of shock about what is happening here looking at the fact that that crash site. Has been -- -- in access to it has been hindered by the rebels the president said what exactly are they trying to hide what was interesting Amy is the president was quite. Personal and his remarks directing them. Two Russian president Vladimir Putin saying it is incumbent on the Russians is incumbent specifically on president food and to compel. The rebels who controlled that territory to make sure that there is no more tampering with the crash site that there is full access given to investigators. And he also spoke Jonathan about how if the decent thing to do to allow those who have lost loved ones on that flight. To -- you have access to their bodies to know what happened to find out how this all happen -- appealed to that side. On the issue as well. Well there are there people up here at the white -- have been horrified as much of the world as. To see what has happened to those bodies to see that they have not been treated -- that dignity to see rebel leaders who were clearly. -- -- -- Going over that crashed even. Taking a wave bodies. Without any kind of of of real decorum the president said that kind of behavior has no place in the community of nations. Really this directing -- directing this directly at the president of Russia. At Vladimir Putin. Who the White House -- does not want you know most believe the US and Russia do not CI -- about what has happened in Ukraine. But they don't believe that players and prudent wants to be associated with the kind of activity that we've seen over the last few days on the ground at that crash site -- Ukraine. Aren't Jonathan Karl at the White House for the latest on lap thank you and let's turn out to ABC news chief investigative correspondent Brian -- we heard the president say. It has been four days with extremely limited access to this crash site for international investigators. Talk a little bit about what investigators are looking for. And what -- encounter now that they finally have some sort of access but. With a lot of time for those separate is too high potentially certain key pieces of evidence. I will with the looking for on the ground Amy are indications of what actually hit of the airplane the brought it down -- looking for telltale explosive residue that might be there. -- the be certain markings would be indicative of the kind of missile the -- on the plane. The US believes strongly -- SA eleven Russian mobile. Heir to a -- -- -- ground to air missile that brought down that plane and there actually is a picture of that the ukrainians have put out of they say was that missile launcher. With two of its missiles missing. That left Ukraine headed back into Russia and the belief by the US and ukrainians now is that. They can track when the missile launch was brought into the Ukraine. A few days earlier and then when the Russians apparently tried to sneak it out after the plane was brought down. That's a key piece of evidence plus the intercepted phone calls that the ukrainians have made public. Indicating that first that they thought they had hit a military plane and then there are horror when they realized they actually has shut down a passenger. Right Brian thank you -- to turn out to ABC chief foreign correspondent turner -- who has been at that crash site for days now and joins us now from. To -- Ukraine and -- talk a little bit about you mentioned there's just now starting to be some movement on the ground. Those bodies on a train. Hopefully headed to the correct place so that this the correct people can. Identify those remains and they can be given to to the families and loved ones. All of these missing people talk a little bit about the movement there and what the access. Is like they -- for investigators now on the ground. Well -- at blast this as you said. The bodies of the dead a flight seventeen are on their way to the appropriate authorities. There have been investigators gathering in a city called -- -- which is a couple of hours away. By train a Malaysian team an American team and FBI and NTSB investigators are there and we are told that within the hour. The 282. Bodies and 87 fragments that have been recovered from that field so far. On refrigerated trains will be going to Sparky. And they will be identified. -- -- they'll looking for evidence shrapnel wounds the kinds of burn wounds that might indicate as Brian was pointing out what hit that plane. And then as soon as possible they will be transferred back to their home countries. To go home so the families will not have to come here into what is awards and I should tell you that from this balcony and standing -- We can -- you know black smoke rising. A few miles north of here there's been fierce fighting. Around this city it's a very still a war zone in a dangerous place for the families to come those bodies now on their way in the right direction. That crime scene though the crash scene. Has been wide open relief for several days and who knows what. The investigators will be able to glean from it. When a complicated situation in the midst of such tragedy Terry Moran thank you so much. And there'll be complete coverage of this story later on world news with Diane Sawyer to continue to get updates on this story on your mobile device star on the ABC news phone apps. I mean -- -- in New York thanks for joining us. This has been a special report from ABC news digital.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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