WASHINGTON -- President Obama accused Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine of obstructing the international investigation into the missile attack against Malaysian Airlines flight and demanded, "Stop tampering with evidence."
Obama said separatists have fired warning shots as investigators have approached the crash site, removed evidence and are even made off with the remains of some of the 298 victims. "Which begs the question, what exactly are they trying to hide?" Obama said from the South Lawn of the White House Monday, four days after the disaster. U.S. officials say they believe a surface-to-air missile battery controlled by separatists shot down the passenger jet over Ukrainian territory they control.
The president called on Russia put pressure on the separatists to adhere to a cease fire and let the investigation proceed. "Given its direct influence over the separatists, Russia — and President Putin in particular — has a direct responsibility to compel them to cooperate with the investigation,. That's the least they can do."
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