Pro-Russian separatists that had taken over the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 in eastern Ukraine have turned over the plane's recording boxes, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced Monday. The militants have also reportedly sent the bodies recovered from the site on trains to Kharkiv, a city controlled by the Ukrainian government, where six Malaysian representatives were on hand to oversee the transfer of the bodies to Dutch authorities, among others.
"Here they are, the black boxes," senior separatist leader Aleksander Borodai said as he turned over the recorders at the Donetsk People's Republic headquarters. The Russia-supported separatists' decision to relinquish the boxes and the bodies comes after days of the group obstructing access to the crash site, exacerbating international accusations—including from the United States—that the separatists were responsible for the missile attack that downed the plane and killed 298 people. More from the New York Times:
European leaders threatened new sanctions on Russia as soon as Tuesday, suggesting they were increasingly open to the harder line being taken against Moscow by the United States, which has accused Russia of providing the surface-to-air missile system that brought down the jetliner, training rebels how to use it, and perhaps even supplying experts who helped fire it.
Mr. Putin issued a brief statement early on Monday saying that Russia would work to ensure that the conflict in eastern Ukraine moved from the battlefield to the negotiating table. He said that a robust international investigating team must have secure access to the crash site, but also accused unspecified nations of exploiting the disaster in pursuit of "mercenary political goals."
"The Russian-backed separatists who control the area continue to block the investigation," President Obama said from the White House, Monday. "The separatists are removing evidence from the crash site. All of which begs the question: What are they trying to hide?"
[Image via AP]