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POLITICS: PennAve

John Kerry: Evidence suggests Russia gave rebels weapon used to shoot down Malaysia airliner

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Politics,White House,Congress,John Kerry,Russia,PennAve,Sean Lengell,Vladimir Putin,Ukraine,Malaysia Airlines Disaster

Secretary of State John Kerry said “extraordinary circumstantial evidence” suggests that the Russian government supplied pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine with the rocket launcher used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

“I'm a former prosecutor. I've tried cases on circumstantial evidence. It's powerful here,” Kerry told NBC "Meet The Press" on Sunday. "There is a lot that points at the need for Russia to be responsible.”

Kerry stopped short of outright accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin's government of giving the rebels the weapon. “We are not drawing the final conclusion here,” he said

Kerry also pushed back at accusations the Obama administration's hasn't been forceful enough in dealing with Putin regarding Russian aggressions in Ukraine, saying that White House has imposed numerous sanctions against Moscow, including new ones implemented the day before flight MH17 was shot down.

“Obviously, the additional sanctions are reflections of the president's, you know, exhaustion of patience with words that are not accompanied by actions,” he said. “We've made it clear, even as we do that, there's no naivety in what President Obama has done with respect to these very tough sanctions.”

Kerry also called on Europe to take a tougher stance against the Putin government.

“The United States has been working diligently with Europe, trying to bring Europe along,” he said. “They've included additional sanctions. We think, frankly, that they may need to be tougher.”

Kerry didn't specify what would be the United States' next move in dealing with Russia. But he said the U.S. "cannot continue with a dual-track policy where diplomacy is winding up with nice words and, you know, well-constructed communiques and agreements but then there's a separate track where the same policy continues.”

"This is a moment of truth for Mr. Putin and for Russia," he said. "Russia needs to step up and prove its bona fides, if there are any left, with respect to its willingness to put actions behind the words."

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