The UK will tighten sanctions against Russia if Moscow does not help in investigating a Malaysian airliner crash in Ukraine, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said.
On July 17, Malaysian Airline flight MH17, which was travelling to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam, crashed, killing all 298 people on board. There is speculation that the Boeing 777 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile while flying 33,000 feet over Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.
Emergency workers say they have found 196 bodies at the crash site. Ten Britons were among those killed in the incident.
In an interview with the state-run BBC on Sunday, Hammond said Britain would seek to persuade the European Union “to go further in terms of sanctions” unless Moscow’s position on the Malaysian Airlines crash changes.
The British secretary also urged Moscow to put pressure on pro-Russia forces in east Ukraine to allow more access to the crash site, adding that Russia had allegedly done nothing to facilitate the investigation.
“What we need is full Russian cooperation… they [Russian authorities] must use their influence to allow international access to the site to secure the evidence and secure respect for the bodies and the possessions of the victims,” Hammond said.
His comments echoed British Prime Minister David Cameron who said Moscow should be held accountable if it is confirmed that the Malaysian flight MH17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile fired from a position controlled by pro-Russians in east Ukraine.
Ukraine and its Western allies have laid the blame on pro-Russians in the east of the country, who have denied any involvement. Kiev also pointed the blaming finger at Moscow for helping pro-Russia forces destroy evidence at the crash site.
The EU and the US have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine in recent months.
Moscow, however, has stressed that the sanctions will not change its stance on Ukraine.
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