Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday accused Ukraine’s government of interfering with the investigation into the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jet in July that killed 298 people.
Independent investigators have had little access to the wreckage of flight MH17 in territory in eastern Ukraine in the hands of pro-Russian separatists fighting Ukrainian government forces.
Putin made the comments in talks with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific conference in China. Najib called for greater access to the wreckage but Putin disputed the suggestion that pro-Russia separatists were hindering the investigation.
“The reference that the territory of the crash site is controlled by so called pro-Russian separatists is totally ungrounded,” Putin said.
“It is not them but the opposite side (that is) constantly shelling the site and doesn’t allow full work there,” he said, adding that Russia supported a full and impartial investigation into the downing of the plane.
The jetliner was brought down on July 17 on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Ukraine and Western countries have accused the rebels of shooting it down with a Russian-made missile, an accusation which Russia denies.
Najib, who has promised to bring to justice those responsible, cited initial investigations which showed the plane was brought down by a “high energy object” rather than a technical fault with the aircraft.
“There are more questions than answers at this stage,” he said. “The most important thing is to have access to the crash site.”