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Plane Crash: US Says Russia Is Culpable

The United States predicts the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, likely by pro-Russian rebels, will fundamentally shift the relationship between Russia and the international community.

“It is a game-changer,” one senior State Department official said.

While Washington has stopped short of blaming Russia, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said Friday the United States believes the jet carrying nearly 300 people was downed by a surface-to-air missile fired by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Due to the sophistication of the Buk missile system believed to have been used, Power said it was “unlikely that the separatists could effectively operate the system without assistance from knowledgeable personnel.”

That means “we cannot rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel in operating the systems,” she added.

Officials said regardless of whether Russian operatives were manning the system, Russia bears responsibility for the attack because of its military and political support for the rebels.

In recent weeks, Russia has intensified its delivery of sophisticated military equipment, officials said.

“While it may take us some time to firmly establish who shot down a plane filled with innocents, most (U.N. Security Council) members and most members of the international community have been warning for months about the devastation that would come if Russia did not stop what it started, if it did not rein in what it unleashed,” Power said.

Another senior U.S. official said that the “responsibility is Russia’s whether they had Russian personnel there or they gave them equipment and an instruction manual” on what to do.

“These separatist leaders are taking orders from Russia and (Russian President Vladimir Putin) has to realize the consequence of sending heavy and sophisticated weapons to a gang of sociopaths, extremists, violent thugs, nationalists and agents who are just given weapons and told to make chaos,” the official said.

CNN News


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