Malaysia Airlines flight MH17: World leaders demand international investigation amid fears crash site could be tampered with

The UN Security Council is backing calls for an independent investigation into the crash

World leaders are demanding an international investigation into the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine, which killed all 298 people on board.

In a statement on Friday, US President Barack Obama warned that the "eyes of the world [are] on eastern Ukraine."

Calling for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine, Obama demanded a credible investigation into the incident.

"We're going to make sure that truth gets out," he said, having called the crash a "terrible tragedy" on Thursday evening.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister David Cameron had described the air disaster as "absolutely appalling, shocking [and] horrific" and called for those responsible "to be held to account" after a chairing a meeting of the Government's Cobra emergency committee.

Cameron is expected to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin by telephone on Friday evening.

Prior to Obama's statement on Friday afternoon, the United Nations (UN) Security Council backed a British-drafted statement calling for a "full, thorough and independent international investigation", during an emergency meeting preceded by a moment's silence for those killed in the crash.

The council members also stressed the need for "immediate access by investigators to the crash site to determine the cause of the incident."

At the meeting in New York, US Ambassador Samantha Power told delegates that Washington cannot rule out the possibility that Russia played some part in launching the surface-to-air missile that is believed to have shot down the Malaysian airlines jet.

She added that the US believes the plane was likely downed by an SA-11 missile fired from an area in eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists, which she alleged was provided by Russian among other heavy weapons - charges which Moscow denies.

Power added that due to the "technical complexity" of the device, it is unlikely separatists could have operated it with assistance.

"Thus, we cannot rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel in operating the systems," she said, adding: "it is extremely important that an investigation be commenced immediately."

At the meeting called by Britain, UK's ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant said "searching questions" had to be asked about Russia's links with armed separatists and called for Moscow to issue an "unequivocal condemnation" of their actions. He went on to urge Russia to "reflect carefully on the situation they have created" by allegedly support armed separatist groups.

Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin addresses an emergency UN Security Council meeting (AP) Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin addresses an emergency UN Security Council meeting (AP)
Russia's UN ambassador responded by warning the council against making "broad statements and insinuations" regarding the cause of the crash.

"There is a need for impartial, open investigation of what happened. Pressure should not be brought on this investigation, trying to prejudge its outcome with broad statements and insinuations that are unjustified in such a difficult situation," Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said.

Churkin also questioned why Ukrainian aviation authorities allowed a passenger flight through an area of armed clashes where anti-aircraft systems were working, adding that ensuring the security of civilian aviation in a state's airspace is the that state's responsibility.

Earlier on Friday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said it "is critical that there be a full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation as quickly as possible". He told a news conference it was "vital that no evidence be tampered with in any way and that all potential evidence and remains at the crash site are undisturbed".

Pro-Russian separatists have since told the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), a security and rights body, they would ensure safe access for international experts visiting the scene.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel echoed the call for an independent investigation into the crash to be started as quickly as possible, telling a news conference in Berlin: "There are many indications that the plane was shot down, so we have to take things very seriously.

"These events have once again shown us that what is required is a political solution and above all that it is also Russia that is responsible for what is happening in Ukraine at the moment," she added.

The Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk described the downing of the plane as an "international crime" and a "war against the world" as he called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. "All lines have been crossed," he added.

Video: If deliberate, 'those responsible must be held to account'

Responding to the crash, the Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded a "thorough and unbiased" investigation into the incident during a phone call with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the Kremlin said on Friday.

Later, he called for a ceasefire by pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces fighting in eastern Ukraine to allow for negotiations during a meeting with Russian Orthodox Church leaders.

"All sides in the conflict must swiftly halt fighting and begin peace negotiations," he said. "It is with great concern and sadness that we are watching what is happening in eastern Ukraine. It's awful, it's a tragedy."

READ MORE: Rebels 'discuss downing of flight MH17' in leaked audio
Rebels recover second black box from crash site
BRITISH FAMILY TURNED AWAY FROM MH17

In a television interview, the former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested the plane could have been shot by Russian-backed separatists, and said action was needed to "put [Vladimir] Putin on notice that he has gone too far and we are not going to stand idly by".

She told PBS news: “There does seem to be some growing awareness that it probably had to be Russian insurgents. How we determine that will require some forensics, but then if there is evidence pointing in that direction, the equipment had to have come from Russia. What more the Russians may or may not have done, we don't know.”

Read more: WHY WAS PASSENGER PLANE FLYING OVER WAR ZONE?
UP TO 100 AIDS RESEARCHERS ON MH17
UKRAINE REBELS DENY 'SHOOTING DOWN' JET
UKRAINE TO LAUNCH INVESTIGATION INTO CRASH

US senator John McCain also warned that there will be “hell to pay” if the Russian military or separatists are deemed to have had any involvement in the 'incident'.

It comes as video footage has emerged purported to show a tank driving through Ukraine which reports claim could be a BUK missile launcher.

The video allegedly show a BUK launcher being driven into place, The Evening Standard has reported. US and Ukrainian officials have said they believe the plane was shot down by a missile.

The authenticity of the video has not been in anyway confirmed or verified.

Leaders of the rebels' self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic denied any involvement and said a Ukrainian air force jet had brought down the intercontinental flight. 

The Ukrainian government has this morning released recordings it said were of Russian intelligence officers discussing the shooting down of a civilian airliner by rebels who may have mistaken it for a Ukrainian military plane. These have also not been confirmed or verified.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam