Four days after the tragic crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Dutch forensics experts are finally being allowed onto the scene. However, the site is still being guarded by armed rebels, who are making it very difficult for investigators to move in and out. The rebels also control much of the access to the bodies, most of which have been moved, decomposed, or otherwise tampered with. These Dutch experts have arrived to review remains of the victims, that is, if they can get to them.
The forensic experts are in the town of Torez, where many of the bodies have been put onto refrigerated rail cars. However, the train cannot leave, as Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk says the rebels controlling the area are preventing the train from moving. Thus far, the experts have only been able to inspect the bodies on the train. In Yatsenyuk's exact words, "These bloody guerrillas do not allow the train to leave the area."
Over the weekend, tensions increased between Russia and the rest of the world, specifically the nations from where most of the victims were from, such as Australia, the Netherlands, and the U.K. Some nations are pushing for increased sanctions against Russia, effective immediately.
U.S. intelligence has linked to Russia the missile systems believed to have brought down Flight MH17, and continues working to tie the separatists directly to President Vladimir Putin. Putin offered a brief, and rather curt, statement this morning. While he agreed to negotiations on access to the site in this statement, he also accused nations of exploiting the crash for "mercenary political goals." Putin has previously noted interest in negotiations, however, Kremlin involvement with pro-Russian separatists occupying the eastern Dombas region of Ukraine has not ceased.
The global community has been put between a rock and a hard place. While they want to reprimand Putin for the Kremlin's role in MH17, they also need his influence over the separatists to gain full access to the site. The Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte said, "It is clear that Russia must use her influence on the separatists to improve the situation on the ground. If in the coming days access to the disaster area remains inadequate, then all political, economic and financial options are on the table against those who are directly or indirectly responsible for that."
The Ukrainian government is prepared to turn the crash site over to Dutch investigators, however, they do not currently have control of it themselves. Even if they are able to hand over the site, much of the evidence has already been compromised. Today, a fire was spotted engulfing some of the debris.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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