Kerry: Mounting evidence Russia provided weapon used to shoot down MH17

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
Yahoo News
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in front of a hotel where closed-door nuclear talks on Iran take place in Vienna, Austria, Monday, July 14, 2014. Kerry will hold in-depth discussions with Iran's top diplomat in a bid to advance faltering nuclear negotiations, with a deadline just days away for a comprehensive agreement. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

Secretary of State John Kerry hit the political talk show circuit on Sunday, saying there is mounting evidence that Russia was involved in providing the weapon separatists are accused of using to shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

“There are an enormous array of facts that point at Russia’s support for and involvement in this effort,” Kerry said on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos."

On NBC's "Meet the Press," Kerry said “there's a buildup of extraordinary circumstantial evidence” Russia provided the weapon used to shoot down the plane.

Kerry said the United States tracked imagery of the launch of a surface-to-air missile around the time the aircraft disappeared from radar.

"We know that [separatists] had an SA-11 system in the vicinity, literally hours before the shoot-down took place," he continued. "We have the intercepts of their conversations, talking about the transfer and movement and repositioning of the SA-11 system. The social media showed them with this system moving through the very area where we believe the shoot-down took place, hours before it took place."

Separatist leader Igor Strelkov bragged on social media about the takedown of a military transport plane, Kerry noted, "and when it turned out to be civilian, he removed it from the social media."

Kerry called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to call out the separatists and encourage them to take part in a political reconciliation process with the Ukrainian government.

"This is a moment of truth for Mr. Putin and for Russia," Kerry said. "Russia needs to step up and prove its bona fides if there are any left."

Kerry also condemned the rebels' response to the crash, calling it "grotesque."

“Drunken separatists are stacking bodies into the back of trucks, removing materials from the site,” Kerry told Stephanopoulos. “This is an insult to everybody. It’s really a moment of truth for Russia to step up and be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

"We are not drawing the final conclusion here," Kerry said on "Meet the Press." "But there is a lot that points at the need for Russia to be responsible."

The Boeing 777 en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam with 298 people on board crashed near the Ukraine-Russia border Thursday. U.S. and Ukraine officials believe the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile of unknown origin. Both government officials and pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region have denied responsibility.

The secretary also commented on the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel, saying Hamas would have to agree to a cease-fire without additional concessions from Israel.

"You cannot reward terrorism," he said on "Meet the Press." "There can't be a set of preconditioned demands.

“It’s ugly. War is ugly,” Kerry continued. “But [Hamas] needs to recognize their own responsibility.”

On "Fox News Sunday," a frustrated Kerry was caught on an open mic speaking to an aide about the latest round of violence in Gaza.

“It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation, it’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Kerry said to the aide, according to Politico, an apparent criticism of Israel's ground invasion of Gaza. “We’ve got to get over there. Thank you, John. I think, John, we ought to go tonight. I think it’s crazy to be sitting around.”

When asked by Fox News host Chris Wallace if he was criticizing Israeli actions, Kerry stood by his comments while reiterating U.S. support of Israel.

“It’s tough to have these kind of operations," Kerry said. "I reacted, obviously, in a way that anybody does with respect to young children and civilians."

He added: “War is tough. I’ve said that publicly and I've said it again. We defend Israeli’s right to do what it is doing. We support Israel’s right to defend itself against rockets that are continuing to come in."