Train Carrying MH17 Bodies Reaches Ukraine City

(Reuters) -
A Malaysian air crash investigator (R) inspects the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Rozsypne, Donetsk region, Tuesday. (REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev)
A Malaysian air crash investigator (R) inspects the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Rozsypne, Donetsk region, Tuesday. (REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev)

Lax security at crash site hampers investigations

A train carrying the remains of many of the 298 victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 arrived in a Ukrainian government-held city on Tuesday. … Five refrigerated wagons containing 200 body bags reached the city of Kharkiv after pro-Russian separatists agreed to hand over the plane’s black boxes to Malaysian authorities and the bodies to the Netherlands, where many victims had lived.

… The remains are due to be unloaded and flown to the Netherlands for the lengthy process of identification. …

Western governments have threatened Russia with broader sanctions for what they say is its backing of the militia. However, they are struggling to agree on a response. …

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would urge the separatists to allow a full investigation … “Here they are, the black boxes,” separatist leader Aleksander Borodai told journalists … as an armed rebel placed the boxes on a desk.

As a small group of Malaysian air crash experts went about their work, loud explosions were heard on the outskirts of Donetsk, some 60 km (40 miles) from the site.

Sanctions

In Brussels, EU foreign ministers raised the possibility for the first time of restricting Russian access to European capital markets, defense and energy technology, asking the executive European Commission to draft proposals this week.

France said it would deliver a second helicopter carrier to Russia despite opposition from the United States and Britain, highlighting the difficulties in reaching an agreement on a response from Western powers.

Diplomats say more serious sanctions against whole sectors of the Russian economy will depend largely on the line taken by the Netherlands, because of the high number of Dutch victims.

At the United Nations, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Monday demanding those responsible “be held to account” and that … armed groups allow “safe, secure, full and unrestricted access” to the crash site.

Alexei Kudrin, a former Russian finance minister and loyal Putin ally, told the state-run ITAR-TASS news agency “The political landscape in our country has changed significantly. We have again become the West’s adversaries.”

Access

U.S. President Barack Obama said Russia had a direct responsibility to compel separatists to cooperate with the investigation.

European security monitors said gunmen stopped them inspecting the site on Friday and Ukrainian officials have said separatists tampered with evidence at the crash site.

But the spokesman for the European security monitors saidthey had unfettered access on Monday. … The Malaysian crash experts walked through the wheat fields by the wreckage, making notes and taking photographs on Tuesday.

Russia’s Defence Ministry has challenged Western accusations that pro-Russian separatists were responsible for shooting down the airliner … and also rejected accusations that Russia had supplied the rebels with SA-11 Buk anti-aircraft missile systems – the weapon said by Kiev and the West to have downed the airliner – “or any other weapons”.