Separatists preventing access to MH17 crash site, says Obama

Separatists preventing access to MH17 crash site, says Obama

KUALA LUMPUR - President Barack Obama has criticised Russia and its backed-separatists in Ukraine, who continue block to investigators from accessing the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash site, and tampering with evidence there.

"Russian-backed separatists who control the area continue to block the investigation. They've repeatedly prevented international investigators to have full access to the wreckage. As investigators approached, they fire their weapons into the air, said the US President.

He said Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko has declared a demilitarised zone around the crash site in Dontesk and that international teams have been organised on the ground to conduct investigations and remove bodies.

"The separatists are removing evidence from the crash site, all of which begs the question - what exactly are they trying to hide?" Obama said during a live address on the White House website, Monday night.

He called the removal of bodies by the separatists as an "insult to their loved ones and the kind of behaviour that has no place in the community of nations".

He later called for Russia and President Vladimir Putin to compel the separatists to cooperate with investigators as they do their work.

"That is the least that they can do," he said.

"President Putin says that he supports a full and fair investigation and I appreciate those words. But they have to be supported by actions.

"The burden now is on Russia to insist that they stop tampering with the evidence, grant investigators who are already on the ground, immediate, full and unimpeded access to the crash site.

"The separatists and the Russian sponsors are responsible for the safety of the investigators doing their work. Along with our allies and partners, we will be working this issue at the United Nations today," Obama said.

MH17 disappeared from radar screens in eastern Ukraine at around 1415 GMT on Thursday, hours after taking off from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport bound for Kuala Lumpur.

The Boeing 777 is believed to have been shot down 50km from the Ukraine-Russia border.

All 298 passengers and crew on board are believed to have perished.

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