|Russia Involved With Rebels Who Downed Jet, Kerry Says|
|Ali Weinberg (@AliABCnEWS)||Jul 20, 2014, 9:15 AM|
Evidence indicates Russia was involved with the separatists accused of shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 over Eastern Ukraine, said Secretary of State John Kerry, who urged Russian president Vladimir Putin to do more to avoid future tragedies like Thursday's crash.
"There are an enormous array of facts that point at Russia's support for and involvement in this effort," Kerry told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, noting that many of the separatists in the region are actually Russian, not Ukrainian, and that the U.S. has strong intelligence that Russia has been arming and training them.
Kerry said Putin should publicly call out the separatists and encourage them to begin a political reconciliation process with the central government in Ukraine, and stop additional weapons from landing in the hands of the separatists.
Kerry also condemned the rebels' handling of the debris field, as they have been seen tampering with the wreckage and bodies there, as well as blocking the access of international monitors.
"Drunken separatists are stacking bodies into the back of trucks, removing materials from the site," Kerry said. "This is an insult to everybody. It's really a moment of truth for Russia to step up and be part of the solution, not part of the problem."
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) also echoed Kerry's sentiments about Russia's involvement in the MH 17 plane crash, pointing to the type of missile launched at the airplane as key evidence.
"I think this certainly eliminates Putin's plausible deniability and he's been operating that way in Ukraine since the beginning of this conflict and him taking Crimea," Rogers told Stephanopoulos. "This [technology] is so sophisticated, you're not even going to hand this weapon system off without having trainers present, maintenance personnel."
"The evidence is mounting that this at least had Russian hands at least at some point on this piece of equipment that led to the massacre of those individuals on that airplane," Rogers added.
Kerry Frustrated Hamas Hasn't Worked Harder to Reach Ceasefire with Israel
Kerry also discussed the violence in the Middle East, expressing frustration that Hamas, the political and military group that controls Gaza and which the U.S. and Israel view as a terrorist organization, have not worked harder to reach a ceasefire with the Israelis.
"It's ugly. War is ugly," Kerry said. "But [Hamas] needs to recognize their own responsibility."
He added that the United States has been working with leaders in the region to reach a mutual ceasefire, and from there negotiate the underlying issues that have been dogging leaders from both Israel and Gaza since well before this latest round of violence began.
Kerry underscored that Hamas would have to accept a ceasefire deal without additional concessions from Israel, like the release of prisoners, before it is allowed a chance to discuss those types of issues at the table with Israel.
"We can't reward this terrorism with a bunch of preconditions up front," Kerry said.