While the group responsible for the crash of Malaysian Airlines MH17 has yet to be determined, the international community has been quick to condemn Vladimir Putin.
Yesterday, Putin made sure to offer emergency aid to the Ukrainian government for the recovery effort and asked pro-Russian separatists to stand down and fully cooperate with the investigation. He also made sure to stand his ground.
"This tragedy would not have happened if there were peace on this land, if the military actions had not been renewed in southeast Ukraine," he said. "And, certainly, the state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy."
No one was particularly warmed by his response, as many believe pro-Russian separatists enjoy direct lines of communication to the Kremlin, supplying them with artillery as well as instruction. This morning, Russian newspapers led with concerns over sanctions, eschewing the subject of blame for the crash. Blame was the number one concern for many international leaders.
In an emergency meeting of the United Nation's Security Council, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power pointed directly to Russia. "Russia can end this war," she said. "Russia must end this war." She told the council that intel suggested that the plane was "likely downed by a surface-to-air missile ... operated from a separatist-held location in eastern Ukraine."
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko immediately responded to Putin's remarks, calling the disaster "not an incident, not a catastrophe, but a terrorist act."
Elsewhere internationally, the former Soviet state of Latvia said Russia bore "full responsibility" for providing separatists with missiles. Latvia's neighbor Lithuania called it "a brutal act of terror."
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was also quick to condemn Putin's remarks as well. "They [the militants] are Russian proxies essentially," he said. "This is only happening because Russia wants to stir up trouble."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel wasn't so sure. "Regarding sanctions, I'd like to point out that the events with the plane, as far as I remember, were not even 24 hours ago and at the moment we need to sort out an independent investigation," she told Reuters. "So it's perhaps premature to draw conclusions before we have access to the remains of the plane."
United States congressmen and women toed the line between demanding answers and action.
“If it is the result of either separatist or Russian actions mistakenly believing this was a Ukrainian war plane, I think there’s going to be hell to pay and there should be,” Senator John McCain told MSNBC. "It has the earmarks of a tragic mistake made by someone who had the capability to just shoot down an aircraft, and we know at least from the last couple of weeks that that could be Russian or separatist Russian capability.”
“All the facts haven’t come out yet… I think what [Putin] is doing is very dangerous,” New York Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told The Daily Beast, referring to Putin's overall meddling in Ukraine. “I would be for stronger sanctions if it’s proved that Putin had anything to do with this.”
If this plane went down as a consequence of the #Ukraine conflict, then Russia has blood on its hands no matter who fired.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) July 17, 2014
Additionally, last week's Pew Research Center poll showed that the world was already upset with Russia. In the United States, negative opinions of Russia grew by 29 points in the past year. In Europe, disdain grew by 20. Unfavorable sentiment also increased in Latin America, Asia and Africa, though by a smaller margin, while the Middle East stayed consistently negative.
The study was conducted between March 17 and June 5, asking the opinions of 48,643 people in 44 countries following Putin's announcement that Russia would annex Crimea. Thoughts on Putin specifically were unanimously negative:
Attitudes toward Putin are more uniformly negative in the U.S. and Europe. Eight-in-ten Americans say they have not too much or no confidence at all in the Russian leader, and majorities in every country surveyed in Europe agree.
On the other hand, Putin's approval rating in Russia has climbed to its highest level in years, according to a new Gallup poll. This year, 83 percent of Russians approve of his leadership, a 29 percent increase from his approval rating in 2013 of 54 percent.
In Malaysia, meanwhile, the focus remained on the tragedy. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak called the disaster "a tragic day, in what has already been a tragic year, for Malaysia."
The Netherlands declared a day of national mourning.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.