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Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US

Sir Peter Westmacott was questioned on action to stop the violence in Ukraine

Britain’s ambassador to the US has called Vladimir Putin “thuggish, dishonest and reckless” as sanctions against Russia are stepped up in the wake of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Sir Peter Westmacott was asked to describe the Russian President by American pundits who called for tougher action to stop the country’s alleged support of rebels in Ukraine.

“The usual KGB playbook response, a pack of lies, doesn’t convince anybody,” he told MSNBC.

“He thought he’d done pretty well after he stole Crimea from Ukraine but it doesn’t look so good now.”

The Russian Government has repeatedly denied involvement in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine amid widespread allegations of arming separatist rebels.

Both Washington and Downing Street have said the latest evidence showed Russia continued to transfer weapons into Ukraine and to provide practical support to the militants.

Video: 'Nobody has the right to use this tragedy for their narrow, selfish political ends'

Ukrainian security officials announced on Monday that black box analysis showed shrapnel from a rocket, allegedly fired by rebels who thought the aircraft was a military transport plane, had caused MH17 to crash.

Sir Peter said current sanctions against Russia were beginning to have an impact but more needs to be done to stop the supply of arms, broker a ceasefire and stop cross-border shelling.

“We’ve had some very bad behaviour from the Russian side for a long time now and now we’ve had this terrible atrocity, the shooting down of the aircraft,” he added.

“We need to ratchet up the response because [Putin] has not met any of the conditions we set in Normandy and indeed since the authority, we’ve seen yet more, not less, Russian interference across the border.”

The veteran diplomat took his post in Washington in 2012 and has previously served as the ambassador to France and Turkey in his 40-year career.