Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: 'Make Putin's oligarchs pay for Ukraine disaster'

US and UK press for tougher Russia sanctions after Ukraine air disaster

Prominent Russian oligarchs, businesses and politicians could face wide-ranging and draconian new EU sanctions as the West united to punish Moscow for the shooting down of Flight MH17.

Britain will urge other European countries to extend travels bans, asset freezes and business sanctions on any individual or entity in Russia deemed to be “influencing or supporting” the “Putin regime”.

Existing sanctions only cover Russian individuals and firms deemed responsible for the recent conflict in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

At a meeting of foreign ministers, the new Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, will also call for a complete ban on any new arms sales to Moscow and for faster progress in identifying companies and individuals “materially or financially supporting Russian action in eastern Ukraine”. These are already covered by existing sanctions.

“We need to use the sense of shock, the sense of outrage, to galvanise opinion behind a more robust stance,” Mr Hammond said. “We have tools in our toolbox. We can inflict damage on the Russian economy.”

Video: Aftermath of MH17 crash

The new range of sanctions under discussion reflects growing fury on both sides of the Atlantic over what Downing Street called Russia’s “unacceptable” response to the tragedy. No 10 sources revealed that Russia had blocked the release of a Security Council statement calling for a full, independent investigation into the shooting down of MH17.

They also expect Russia to veto a UN Security Council resolution being drafted by the UK and Australia calling for “full, safe and unfettered access” to the crash site and for those responsible to be “held to account”.

At the crash site in Grabove in eastern Ukraine yesterday, pro-Russian rebels claimed that a total of 192 bodies had been gathered and placed inside railway carriages in the town of Torez, around 10 miles away. Officials from the Office for Security and Co-operation in Europe said they had inspected three carriages and been told 167 corpses were inside them.

The rebel leader Alexander Borodai, head of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, said the bodies would remain on the train until experts came to examine them. Apparently responding to claims the separatists had even been moving some of the bodies to Russia, he said he was waiting for the arrival of crash experts from Malaysia and the Netherlands.

“The bodies will go nowhere until experts arrive,” he said at a press conference in the rebel-held city of Donetsk

Mr Borodai also said his men had recovered the black boxes from downed plane. He said these would in due course be handed over to officials from the International Civil Aviation Organisation, a UN agency.

Last night, David Cameron spoke to Vladimir Putin over the phone for 30 minutes after three days of requests for talks which were rebutted by the Russian President. Downing Street said afterwards that Mr Cameron accused Mr Putin directly of contributing to an appalling tragedy by continuing to support the separatists.

Mr Cameron also said the delay and restrictions on access to the crash site were “completely unacceptable and indefensible”. Mr Cameron added: “President Putin must change course.”

Until now, the Obama administration has been frustrated at the slow speed of European sanctions that has, in part, been driven by the reliance of many countries on Russian gas supplies.

Even Britain, which has been more bullish on sanctions than France and Germany, would suffer financially if so-called Tier Three sanctions were imposed

These would cover measures on trade, energy and finance and would affect both the city of London and BP, which last month signed a £1.5bn deal with the Russian oil giant Rosneft.

The US Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday that he hoped the shooting down of MH17 would act as a “wake-up call” to other European governments on the need for effective sanctions to influence Russian support for the Ukrainian separatists.

Yesterday Mr Cameron also held conversations with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the French President François Hollande. Downing Street said afterwards they agreed that the EU “must reconsider its approach to Russia and that foreign ministers should be ready to impose further sanctions on Russia”.

To be effective, Russian sanctions would have to target more than only oligarchs such as Igor Sechin, the head of Rosneft who is already on the US sanctions list.

They would also have to target Russian companies’ access to Western capital, Russia’s oil and gas exports as well as Russian assets held overseas.

A government source said  much would depend on Russian actions over the next two days: “Our immediate priority is to secure unfettered access to the crash site both for investigators and those who will help to repatriate the bodies. If no more progress is made on support for the international investigation and access to the site by Russia then sanctions may be even tougher than they would otherwise have been.”

* John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, said there was a “build-up of extraordinary circumstantial evidence” that pro-Russian rebels had shot down the plane and that Moscow had been complicit in the act.

“This is the moment of truth for Russia,” he said. “Russia is supporting these separatists. Russia is arming these separatists. Russia is training these separatists, and Russia has not yet done the things necessary in order to try to bring them under control.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
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

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn