Skip to main content

U.S. has 'evidence that Russia is firing' into Ukraine

By Ivan Watson, Sara Sidner and Victoria Butenko, CNN
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 0051 GMT (0851 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The Ukrainian Prime Minister and his Cabinet resign but remain in place until elections
  • More than 400 people have died in eastern Ukraine fighting, government says
  • Planes carrying the remains of as many as 74 people land in Eindhoven
  • A rebel leader raises new uncertainty about how Flight 17 was shot down

Send iReport your photos and videos.

Donetsk, Ukraine (CNN) -- The United States said Thursday it has proof that Russia is firing into Ukraine.

Also Thursday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and his Cabinet announced their resignation in what Ukrainian political experts said was an expected development. Yatsenyuk and his Cabinet will remain in place as an acting government until elections in October.

The Ukrainian government has been battling pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. More than 400 people have died in the fighting, the government has said.

"We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions," said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.

A line of hearses arrives at the Korporaal van Oudheusdenkazerne in Hilversum, Netherlands, on Saturday, July 26, as bodies from the crash of Malaysia Flight 17 are brought to the Netherlands where they will be identified. Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people aboard. Of the people who died, 193 were Dutch citizens. A line of hearses arrives at the Korporaal van Oudheusdenkazerne in Hilversum, Netherlands, on Saturday, July 26, as bodies from the crash of Malaysia Flight 17 are brought to the Netherlands where they will be identified. Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people aboard. Of the people who died, 193 were Dutch citizens.
MH17 victims' bodies transported
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
MH17 victims\' bodies transported MH17 victims' bodies transported
For the Dutch, a day of mourning
MH17's quiet, abandoned crash site

Two U.S. officials said earlier that Russian troops have broken up into smaller groups and moved closer to the Ukrainian border.

In the political realm, Yatsenyuk told Parliament that he was announcing his resignation after the blocking of government initiatives and the collapse of the coalition.

"At the moment my government does not have the answer" to numerous questions, including how to keep paying government salaries, military expenses and families of flight victims.

A "collapsed coalition has consequences," he said.

The Prime Minister's announcement comes as more bodies from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 arrived in the Netherlands. The Boeing 777 was shot down by a suspected surface-to-air missile last week over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

Journalist working for CNN detained in Ukraine

Among other developments Thursday:

-- A Ukrainian journalist working as a freelancer for CNN has been detained by pro-Russian rebels.

Armed men from the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic seized Anton Skiba outside a hotel Tuesday in the rebel-controlled city of Donetsk.

An official with the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic initially accused Skiba of "terrorism" and of posting cash rewards for the killing of rebel fighters on his Facebook page. Later the official dropped the accusation about the Facebook posts and said Skiba was being questioned for having multiple forms of identification with different surnames.

On Wednesday, another high-ranking separatist official told CNN that Skiba admitted to being a "Ukrainian agent."

CNN initially chose not to report on Skiba's detention while making efforts to secure his release.

-- Planes bearing the dead from Flight 17 arrived in Netherlands for a second day.

Aircraft carrying the remains of as many as 74 people touched down Thursday at a military base in Eindhoven. Forty wooden caskets were flown in Wednesday and greeted by somber, moving tributes across the country.

Of the citizens from 10 countries who died on Flight 17, the majority, 193, were Dutch.

What happens to the victims' bodies next?

'Black boxes' in the UK

Does debris prove MH17 was shot down?
Will victims' families ever get justice?
Families of crew members aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 gather for a vigil Tuesday, July 22, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. All 298 people aboard the passenger plane died when it was shot down Thursday, July 17, in a rebel-controlled part of eastern Ukraine. Families of crew members aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 gather for a vigil Tuesday, July 22, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. All 298 people aboard the passenger plane died when it was shot down Thursday, July 17, in a rebel-controlled part of eastern Ukraine.
World reacts to MH17 crash
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Reaction to MH17 Photos: Reaction to MH17

It took days for Ukrainian rebels who control the area of the crash site to hand over the bodies and the airliner's black boxes to Malaysian officials.

The voice and flight data recorders are now in Britain for what will be a detailed scouring by international analysts that could take weeks. On Wednesday, investigators found that the cockpit voice recorder was damaged, but its memory was intact. There was no sign of tampering.

But Dutch crash investigators leading the inquiry said Wednesday they still don't have everything they need and haven't been able to visit the crash site under safe conditions to carry out their work.

It's happened before: MH17 tragedy was part of a bigger air war

Who are Ukraine's pro-Russian rebels?

Australia has sent 50 police officials to London in advance of their joining a possible international deployment to eastern Ukraine to secure the crash site, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Thursday.

Did rebels have missile system?

Accusations continue to fly over who was responsible for shooting down Flight 17.

One pro-Russian rebel commander further complicated the picture by appearing to acknowledge that rebels had in their possession the type of surface-to-air missile system that U.S. officials say was used to bring down Flight 17.

Since the crash a week ago, rebel leaders have repeatedly denied that they had an SA-11, or Buk, missile system, at their disposal.

But in an interview with the news agency Reuters, Alexander Khodakovsky, the commander of the Vostok Battalion in Donetsk, said he knew about the missile system.

"I knew that a BUK came from Luhansk. At the time I was told that a BUK was coming from Luhansk under the flag of the LNR," Khodakovsky told Reuters, making a reference to the Luhansk People's Republic, the principal rebel group in Luhansk.

Luhansk is one of two rebel provinces in eastern Ukraine. The other, Donetsk, is where Flight 17 came down.

"I found out about it when I found out that this tragedy happened. Most likely it was brought back in order to conceal the evidence of its presence," Khodakovsky said in the Reuters interview, which took place Tuesday and was published Wednesday.

He accused the Ukrainian government of provoking "usage of this kind of weapon against a plane with civilians which was flying by."

But Russian media later reported that Khodakovsky later denied that he confirmed that rebels had the missile system, saying his comments were taken out of context. He told the news outlet RT that he was only discussing theories with Reuters and that he did not have information on such a weapon. Reuters said it is sticking by its story.

Ukrainian President: The world must choose sides

So much we don't know -- five unanswered questions

Who were the victims?

Should jet have flown over Ukraine?

CNN's Josh Levs, Michael Pearson, Jethro Mullen, Holly Yan, Nick Paton Walsh, Catherine E. Shoichet, Phil Black, Bharati Naik, Barbara Starr, Brian Todd and Elizabeth Joseph contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 1258 GMT (2058 HKT)
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 broke apart in the air after it was hit by a burst of "high-energy objects" from outside, according to a report.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 1140 GMT (1940 HKT)
The report into Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 says everything. And yet it says nothing about the cause of the plane's crash and the criminals.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
"There were many scenes that defied logic," writes OSCE spokesman Michael Bociurkiw, who was one of the first international observers to arrive at the site.
July 29, 2014 -- Updated 2255 GMT (0655 HKT)
During the last four months, the people of Ukraine have been fighting for their freedom, independence and European path in a war started by Russia-backed terrorists and their accomplices.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1857 GMT (0257 HKT)
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
The mother of two brothers killed in the MH17 plane crash has spoken of her regret at not taking her youngest son's fears over the flight seriously.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
A long line of hearses, accompanied by police, carried the remains slowly toward a Dutch military base, where forensic investigators will begin the grim work of identifying them.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1808 GMT (0208 HKT)
Seeing the images of the mangled wreckage of an aircraft after a crash is difficult for any flight attendant.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2304 GMT (0704 HKT)
The United States and its allies are angrier at Russia now over Ukraine, but will they do anything more about it -- especially Europe?
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 0700 GMT (1500 HKT)
When passengers boarded Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 last week, they couldn't have known they were about to fly over a battlefield.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0925 GMT (1725 HKT)
The horrifying crash has put the pro-Russia rebels center stage -- and raised all kinds of questions about who they are, what they want and who's in charge.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1540 GMT (2340 HKT)
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1704 GMT (0104 HKT)
Aerial photos show the scale of the crash site and help investigators to answer lingering questions.
ADVERTISEMENT