|(Flight MH17) Putin promises to cooperate as blame for MH17 crash piles on Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to cooperate with outraged world leaders seeking access to the site of downed flight MH17, after Washington squarely pointed the finger of blame at Moscow for the crash.
The under-fire Russian leader appeared to seek to temper international fury after US Secretary of State John Kerry said the missile system used to shoot down the Malaysia Airlines jet was "transferred from Russia in the hands of separatists''.
The UN Security Council is on Monday due to consider a resolution demanding that pro-Russian separatists provide "unrestricted access'' to the site in rural eastern Ukraine, as concerns rise over evidence tampering, the fate of victims' remains and black boxes.
In separate phonecalls, Putin promised Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte ''full cooperation'' in retrieving the bodies and black boxes, while Australia's premier Tony Abbott said the Russian leader had said "all the right things''.
Both countries suffered heavy losses when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was blown out of the sky on Thursday by what is believed to have been a surface-to-air missile, killing 298 and dramatically raising the stakes in Ukraine's bloody three-month conflict.
The separatists' violent bid for independence is the latest chapter in a prolonged crisis sparked by Kiev's desire for closer ties with the EU -- a sentiment many in the Russian-speaking east do not share.
Evidence is mounting that the rebels downed the jet, pushing East-West ties already strained by the bitter tug-of-war over Ukraine's future to crisis point. --AFP