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Ukrainian emergency workers walk by charred debris at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, on July 20, 2014. / Vadim Ghirda, AP

Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that there was mounting evidence Russia assisted separatists in Ukraine in shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. European leaders and members of Congress also called for new sanctions to be put into place.

"We know for certain that in the last month there's been a major flow of personnel and weapons," including a convoy of 150 vehicles including 150 tanks and armored personnel carriers, Kerry said on CNN's State of the Union, one of five Sunday shows he appeared on. "At the moment of the shoot-down, we detected a launch from that area," Kerry said. "The trajectory went through that plane."

Asked whether Russia provided the weapon, Kerry told NBC's Meet the Press that the administration is unprepared to make that concrete assertion. "We are not drawing the final conclusion here, but there's a lot (of evidence) to believe that Russia is responsible," he said.

Kerry told Fox News Sunday he is trying to convince European countries to hit Russia with tougher sanctions and talking to Ukraine about increasing U.S. aid to its military. "What we are doing now is trying to bring our European counterparts along," Kerry said.

Leaders in Europe said they would discuss sanctions when they meet Tuesday for the first time since Flight MH17 was shot down, according to press reports.

United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande agreed in a phone conversation that the European Union should ready new sanctions and urge Russia to ensure access to the crash site, a spokesman for the U.K. government told Sky News.

"They agreed President Putin has an important role to play by persuading the separatists to grant access and to work with the international community to ensure that all that needs to be done can be done as soon as possible," the spokesman said. "They also agreed that the EU must reconsider its approach to Russia."

Cameron wrote in the Sunday Times that some of his European counterparts need to get over their reluctance to take strong action against Russia. "If Vladimir Putin does not change his approach to Ukraine then Europe and the West must fundamentally change our approach to Russia," Cameron wrote. "This is not about military action, plainly. But it is time to make our power, influence and resources count."

On ABC's This Week, Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, said the missile system had Russian hands on it "at least at some point."

"We need our European allies to step up (their) opportunity to put really tough sanctions," he said.

On CNN, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California who heads the Intelligence Committee, said: "I think the world has to rise up and say, 'We've had enough of this.' I think Europe has to come together. I think Germany in particular has to lead. I think we have to continue with sanctions."

On CNN, Kerry also said social media posts have provided a lot of information, including photographs of a BUK missile system in the area of the shoot-down, and a photo of such a system leaving the area with one missile missing.

A leader of the separatists' Donetsk People's Republic bragged on his website that rebels shot down a Ukrainian military transport in the moments after the shoot-down, and then removed the post after it became clear the flight was a civilian airliner, Kerry said.

"So it obviously points a very clear finger at the separatists," he said.

Kerry stopped short of saying Russia is responsible for the deaths of 298 crewmembers and passengers on the flight, but said the world, and European countries in particular, need to take stronger action against it.

"It would help enormously if some countries in Europe (that have not wanted to join sanctions) would get on board and step up," he said.

Kerry's comments come as anger mounts across the globe over the way the scene and the remains have been handled. There have been increasing calls for Putin to intervene.

"I am shocked by the images of utterly disrespectful behavior at the crash site - violating the rules of any investigation, there are people fooling around amid the debris, and picking through the personal and recognizable items of the victims," said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country lost 193 people. "This is utterly disgusting."

Rutte said he had an "intense" conversation with Putin on Sunday morning and that he told Putin "time is running out" on his offer to help force the rebels in Ukraine to cooperate with the investigation.



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: Kerry, European leaders push for new sanctions on Russia

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