The White House on Monday criticised Russia’s “desperate” and “much harder to believe” explanation of the events that led to a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane being shot down over Ukraine.
Earlier in the day, the Russian government presented the case for why Ukraine, and not the Russian-backed separatists in the country, could have been responsible for the plane’s downing. Among other things, Russia said it did not provide the separatists with the anti-aircraft weapons that would have been necessary for the attack.
Asked about the Russian narrative during his daily media briefing, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest panned it as implausible given the facts.
“There are some facts that have been widely reported and that are well-known,” he said.
Earnest proceeded to present the information U.S. officials have previously given to link Russia to the attack. Among other things, he cited social media posts by separatists claiming to have shot down a Ukrainian transport plane at about the same time the Malaysian Airlines aircraft was brought down last Thursday.
“The first [fact] is that for months now the Russian government has been actively supporting the separatists in eastern Ukraine. In fact, some of those separatist leaders are Russian citizens. We also know … that Russia continues to provide heavy weapons to these separatists,” Earnest said.
“We also know that the Russians are actively engaged in training separatists to use those weapons, including some anti-aircraft weapons. In fact, the separatists have claimed some success on this front. They have boasted in the last several weeks of shooting down three different Ukrainian aircraft. So there’s track record here.”
This all presents a “clear” picture of what happened, Earnest argued.
“What’s clear is that there’s a picture that’s coming into focus,” he said. “And Russian claims to the contrary are getting both more desperate and much harder to believe.”
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