A pro-Russian fighter guards the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines jet near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 19, 2014.
Photo by Evgeniy Maloletka/AP

Russia and Ukraine feud amid Malaysian Airlines plane recovery

Ukraine and Russia traded barbs and blame overnight, criticizing the other for promulgating the conflict that is hurting the recovery and investigation of the downing of a Malaysian Airlines flight in eastern Ukraine last week.

According to Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Russia is not only aiding and abetting the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, they are firing on the Ukrainian military.

“The tactic of the Russian saboteurs is as follows: first the terrorists start shelling empty Russian territories from Ukraine, as a response to that Russian military shells Ukrainian army positions. Under the cover of intensive shelling, the weaponry is transported to the Ukrainian territory,” the spokesman said during a press conference early Monday morning, according to an NBC News translation.

Putin, in an earlier statement also translated by NBC News, blamed Ukraine for not taking enough “responsibility” for its citizens. 

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“All people who are responsible for what is happening in this region of Ukraine should increase their responsibility towards its own people and towards the people of those countries that lost their citizens in this catastrophe,” Putin said.

The back-and-forth comes ahead of the the U.N. Security Council’s vote on a resolution that would condemn the downing of the plane and demand that those responsible be held accountable, Reuters reported. Russia was consulted on the drafting of the resolution and in what appears to be a compromise with Moscow, the final resolution refers to the plane’s crash as the “downing” rather than the “shooting down.” 

Over the weekend, the U.S. and Ukraine continued to point out that it was Russia that facilitated the shooting down of the plane.

“We know with confidence—with confidence—that the Ukrainians did not have such a system anywhere near the vicinity at that point and time. So it obviously points a very clear finger at the separatists,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday on ABC.

Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk made the case that Russia armed, financed and trained the separatists in the downing of the MH17 and alleging that Russia was starting an international war.

“Russia is on the dark side” he said. “They have to stop. What President Putin has to realize is enough is enough. This is not a conflict between Ukraine and Russia. This is a global conflict and a global threat. The key priority of the international community is to stop Russian aggression.”

Lysenko’s remarks painted a picture of a government that is unable to control its own borders and struggling to control the site of an international disaster. The separatists are “still not allowing complete access” to the site, he said, and they’re stealing personal documents and diplomatic mail from the flight.

Putin did not mention the Russian forces situated at the border of Ukraine or the Russian arms the U.S. says are flowing into Ukraine and arming them with the kind of artillery needed to shoot down a passenger jet from the sky.

Lysenko also noted that the majority of the 35 captured terrorists they’ve detained so far are Russian nationals, but in Putin’s statement, he said Russia would push for peace and a diplomatic solution. He also called for an international investigation.

“Russia shall do all it can to ensure the conflict in the East of Ukraine would change from today’s military stage to the stage of peaceful negotiations with exclusively diplomatic means,” Putin said.

The Russian president has made similar statements regularly since the start of the conflict, though all reports point to an escalation of Russian efforts along the border. The U.S. slapped the country with new economic sanctions last week because, the president said, Russia wasn’t actually working for peace.

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