MOSCOW- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said Ukraine was responsible for the crash of a Malaysian airline carrying 298 people in the strife-torn east of the former Soviet state.
"There is no doubt that the country on whose territory this terrible tragedy happened bears responsibility," Putin was quoted by Ria Novosti news agency as saying.
"This tragedy would not have happened if there was peace in the country, if military operations had not resumed in the south-east of Ukraine," he added.
The Russian leader then said he had ordered military officials to "provide all aid needed to shed light on this criminal act."
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed in rebel-held eastern Ukraine near the Russian border, with Kiev charging that it was shot down in a "terrorist" attack.
More than half the passengers, 154, were Dutch nationals, while 27 came from Australia and 23 were Malaysian, an airline official said.
US officials "strongly believe" the airliner was shot down by a surface-to-air missile but have not identified who fired it.
World leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon quickly called for a full international investigation of the disaster.
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