President Barack Obama has said President Vladimir Putin has "direct responsibility" to use his power over pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine to allow investigators to access the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
In a speech given on Monday, Obama expressed frustration at pro-Russian separatists for preventing a thorough investigation at the crash site to determine who was responsible for shooting down the plane.
"Now's the time for President Putin and Russia to pivot away from the strategy that they've been taking and get serious about trying to resolve hostilities within Ukraine," Mr. Obama said. "And time is of the essence."
"Separatists are removing evidence from the crash site," the president continued. "Which begs the question: What exactly are they trying to hide? The burden now is on Russia to insist that the separatists stop tampering with the evidence."
Obama noted that while he appreciates Putin's verbal support of the investigation, it is time for action.
"President Putin has a direct responsibility to compel them to cooperate with the investigation," Obama said. "The world deserves to know exactly what happened."
The President also noted that if Putin doesn't comply and Russia continues to back the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, there will be additional "costs."
Authorities believe the pro-Russian separatists are at fault for the crash, and have suggested that Russia has been complicit in the plane's downing by supporting the separatists with training and supplies.
"Over the last several days, our hearts have been absolutely broken as we learn about the extraordinary lives that have been lost," Obama continued.
In a speech last Friday, Obama called the crash an "unspeakable outrage" and a "global tragedy," saying it should be a "wake-up call" to Europe that there are consequences of the conflict in Ukraine. He also accused the separatists of removing evidence from the crash site.
"It now has to be our focus and the focus of the international community to bring about a cease fire that ends the fighting," Obama said. "Obviously it will not be easy."
Russian officials have blamed both Ukraine and the West for the tragedy, claiming they saw MH17 detour from its route at the same time a Ukrainian warplane flew overhead and a U.S. satellite flew over Ukraine. And it said Ukraine had four SA-11 Buk missile systems on the ground in separatist territory.
According to the Business Insider, the U.N. Security Council is set to vote Monday on a resolution to condemn the downing of the plane, to demand those responsible be held accountable, and to hold that the pro-Russian separatists stop interfering with the crash site.