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White House calls for immediate ceasefire in Ukraine following MH17 tragedy

Given context of a crisis in Ukraine "fuelled by Russian support for the separatists", White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest urges Russia to take "concrete steps to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine".

WASHINGTON: The White House has called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine in the wake of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on Friday morning (July 18), likely caused by a surface-to-air missile.

"It is critical that there be a full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation as quickly as possible. We urge all concerned – Russia, the pro-Russian separatists, and Ukraine – to support an immediate cease-fire in order to ensure safe and unfettered access to the crash site for international investigators and in order to facilitate the recovery of remains," Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement on Friday.

The US also said it was vital that the crash site not be tampered with, and offered its assistance in any international investigation.

The statement in full reads as follows:

The United States is shocked by the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, and we offer our deep condolences to all those who lost loved ones on board. We continue to seek information to determine whether there were any American citizens on board.

It is critical that there be a full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation as quickly as possible. We urge all concerned – Russia, the pro-Russian separatists, and Ukraine – to support an immediate cease-fire in order to ensure safe and unfettered access to the crash site for international investigators and in order to facilitate the recovery of remains.

The role of international organizations – such as the United Nations and the OSCE in Ukraine – may be particularly relevant for this effort, and we will be in touch with affected nations and our partners in these organizations in the coming hours and days to determine the best path forward.

In the meantime, it is vital that no evidence be tampered with in any way and that all potential evidence and remains at the crash site are undisturbed. The United States remains prepared to contribute immediate assistance to any international investigation, including through resources provided by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

While we do not yet have all the facts, we do know that this incident occurred in the context of a crisis in Ukraine that is fuelled by Russian support for the separatists, including through arms, materiel, and training.

This incident only highlights the urgency with which we continue to urge Russia to immediately take concrete steps to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine and to support a sustainable cease-fire and path toward peace that the Ukrainian government has consistently put forward.

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