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A piece of wreckage from the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is pictured on July 18, 2014 in Shaktarsk, Ukraine.  Dominique Faget—AFP/Getty Images

Malaysia Airlines Ukraine Crash: Obama Says 1 American Aboard Flight

Jul 18, 2014

At least one American citizen was on board Malaysia Airways Flight 17 when it plummeted to earth Thursday, President Barack Obama said Friday, adding that the U.S. government believes that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile fired from separatist-held territory in eastern Ukraine.

Quinn Lucas Schansman, a dual Dutch-U.S. citizen, is believed to be the lone American killed in what Obama called "an outrage of unspeakable proportions."

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said Friday at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council that the U.S. government believes the plane was shot down Thursday "by an SA-11 operated from a separatist-held location in eastern Ukraine."

"Because of the technical complexity of the SA-11, it is unlikely that the separatists could effectively operate the system without assistance from knowledgeable personnel," Power said. "Thus we cannot rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel in operating the systems."

Obama called on Russia, Ukraine, and separatist groups to immediately declare a ceasefire so that an independent investigation can begin, adding that any evidence removed from the site must be turned over to investigators.

"If indeed Russian-backed separatists were behind this attack on a civilian airliner, they and their backers would have good reason to cover up evidence of their crime," Power said. "Thus, it is extremely important that an investigation be commenced immediately."

Describing the downing as a "global tragedy," Obama said it was too early to know the intentions of those who shot down the plane. "The eyes of the world are on eastern Ukraine and we are going to make sure that the truth is out," Obama said.

A day after Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed Ukraine for the plane's downing, Power said Russia is responsible for continuing to back Ukrainian separatists despite repeated assurances that they were working to de-escalate the situation.

"Russia says that it seeks peace in Ukraine, but we have continually provided evidence to this council of Russia’s continued support for the separatists," Power said. "Time after time President Putin has committed to working towards dialogue and peace. Every single time he has broken that commitment."

"This war can be ended," Power concluded. "Russia can end this war. Russia must end this war."

Obama said it is time for Putin to put aside propaganda. "He and the Russian government have to make a strategic decision," Obama said, saying “It is not possible for these separatists to function the way they are functioning," including shooting down planes, without Russia's backing.

Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin said his government blames the Ukrainian government for the shoot-down, questioning why the plane was even there. “Why did the Ukraine aviation dispatchers send this plane over a war zone," he said, warning against "insinuations" about the attack.


Scenes from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

A woman cries during a religious service held by villagers in memory of the victims at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 22, 2014.
A woman cries during a religious service held by villagers in memory of the victims at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 22, 2014.Vadim Ghirda—AP
A woman cries during a religious service held by villagers in memory of the victims at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 22, 2014.
Members of a Dutch forensics team prepare to inspect rail cars where the bodies of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash victims were being held in Torez, Ukraine, July 21, 2014.
The bodies of victims of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 arrive at the Torez train station in the back of a truck to be loaded into a refrigerated train car on July 21, 2014 in Torez, Ukraine.
Local residents gather to watch as the bodies of victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 are removed from the scene of the crash on July 21, 2014 in Grabovo, Ukraine.
Personnel from the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry load the bodies of victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 into a truck at the crash site on July 21, 2014 in Grabovo, Ukraine.
An armed pro-Russian separatists gestures as he blocks the way to the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Grabove, in the region of Donetsk on July 20, 2014.
People search a wheat field for remains in the area of the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, July 20, 2014.
Emergency Workers carry a body at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region July 19, 2014.
A rose lies on a plastic sheet covering a victim of a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 plane which was downed on Thursday near the village of Rozsypne, in the Donetsk region July 18, 2014.
Miners inspect a piece of debris found in a field from an Air Malaysia plane on July 18, 2014 in Grabovka, Ukraine.
A group of miners prepare to search a field for debris and human remains from an Air Malaysia plane on July 18, 2014 in Grabovka, Ukraine.
A man looks at debris from an Air Malaysia plane crash on July 18, 2014 in Grabovka, Ukraine.
Self-proclaimed Prime Minister of the pro-Russian separatist "Donetsk People's Republic" Alexander Borodai stands as he arrives on the site of the crash of a malaysian airliner carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine, on July 17, 2014.
People walk amongst the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, July 17, 2014.
People walk amongst the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, July 17, 2014.
The site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash is seen near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014.
An Emergencies Ministry member works at putting out a fire at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014.
Ukraine Plane
The wreckage of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed on July 17, 2014 near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine.
Luggages are pictured on July 17, 2014 on the site of the crash of the malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine.
A woman and child walk past the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine on Thursday, July 17, 2014.
The wreckage of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine, July 17, 2014.
A woman cries during a religious service held by villagers in memory of the victims at the crash site of Malaysia Airlin
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Vadim Ghirda—AP
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