The United Nations Security Council called for an urgent meeting on Friday to discuss the Ukraine crisis, which has blown up into an even bigger international incident following the downing of Malaysia Airlines' passenger plane Flight MH17 in the country's east.
The U.N.'s British office has scheduled the meeting for 10 a.m. local time (5 a.m. EDT) to discuss the worsening situation in crisis-ridden eastern Ukraine, after a surface-to-air missile is believed to have brought down Flight MH17 Thursday, killing all 298 people on board. Pro-Russian separatists have reportedly expressed a willingness to consider a three-day cease-fire to allow recovery operations for the Malaysia Airlines plane, which crashed in the village of Hrabove, about 25 miles from the Russian border.
Britain told the U.N. Security Council to conduct "a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident," Associated Press reported, even as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the International Civil Aviation Organization is closely monitoring the situation. The proposed international investigation will be approved only if all 15 council members, to whom it was reportedly circulated to, agree to it.
“Ukraine will present the evidence of Russian military involvement into the Boeing crash. This crime should be fully investigated,” Yuriy Sergeyev, Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.N., tweeted.
While Alexander Neradko, the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency head, said according to Ria Novosti, that the responsibility for the crashed Boeing 777 jet lay on Ukraine, authorities in Kiev have blamed pro-Russian rebels, who have denied responsibility for the incident.
“I think it’s all crystal clear. The militia has only Manpads [portable air defense systems] and missile systems. Their fire range is only at 2-3 kilometers. So it was either Ukrainian aviation or anti-missile defense,” Alexander Borodai, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said according to Ria Novosti.
However, American intelligence suggests that pro-Russian separatists or Russian forces, were more likely to be responsible for the attack on the plane, AP reported, citing an anonymous official source.
President Barack Obama spoke to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, calling for an immediate investigation into the matter and expressed condolences for the 154 Dutch citizens who were on board the plane, which was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
"The president and prime minister (Rutte) agreed on the need to assure immediate access to the site of the incident to international investigators in order to facilitate the recovery of remains and to carry out a thorough investigation,” the White House said, according to Reuters.
Obama also spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday yet again urging Russia to help contain the ongoing violence in the region.
“President Obama called on President Putin to take concrete steps to de-escalate the situation, including to press separatists to agree to a cease-fire, support a roadmap for negotiations, halt the flow of fighters and weapons into Ukraine, obtain the release of all hostages still held by the separatists, and work to establish an effective OSCE border-monitoring mechanism,” the White House said in a statement.
The civilian airplane's downing follows the crash of two Ukrainian fighter jet earlier in the week, one of which was claimed by pro-Moscow separatists.