Rep. Ed Royce charged on Saturday that there's a cover-up in the Ukraine over the downing Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 by pro-Russian separatist groups on the ground.
"I think what’s happened is a rather poorly trained separatist group here probably inadvertently shot down an airliner and are now trying to cover this up, and that’s the part you see on the ground today," the California Republican told Michael Smerconish on CNN.
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Royce is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The jetliner was shot down in Eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 298 aboard.
International monitors said on Saturday that they were allowed to see more of the crash site, though gunmen still stopped them from approaching some of the wreckage. The improvement came after reports that Ukraine's government and the separatists agreed to set up a security zone around the location
In his interview Royce blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for supplying weapons to the separatists, saying that the U.S. knew that heavy artillery had been sent there in recent days.
The Russian government also was moving equipment into Ukraine because it was worried that Petro Poroshenko, Kiev’s new president, was consolidating support throughout the country, Royce said.
"They’re panicked to move quickly because Poroshenko has been consolidating support in the East," Royce told Smerconish.
"As people move towards the Ukrainian government, they are rather desperate to set back the advances made by the Ukrainian elected government."
Poroshenko was elected president in May.
Royce called the attack on the jetliner an "unfortunate consequence" of Russian involvement and that the federation was controlling Eastern Ukraine with "KGB agents or the current equivalent" on the ground.
"You can see how it’s being micromanaged from Russia," he said.
Royce said that worldwide pressure will now build up on Putin because of the downing.
"The degree of anger in east Asia, in Europe, in Central Asia towards the downing of this airliner will probably consolidate world opinion behind the peace plan put forward by President Poroshenko and put enormous pressure right now on the Russian government to back off."
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