Putin wants end to Ukraine violence after PM Rutte call

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No image availableNL Times

In a phone call with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, President Vladimir Putin has offered his condolences and called for a "thorough and unbiased" investigation into the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 in the Ukraine near the Russian border, according to a statement from the Kremlin.

Shortly after the statement was released, President Putin reportedly asked all parties in the conflict in eastern Ukraine to lay down their and engage in talks as soon as possible, reports the Associated Press. In comments carried by Russian news agencies, Putin said that peace in Ukraine must prevail as soon as possible and called for direct talks between Kiev and pro-Russian insurgents.

"The head of the Russian state underlined that the tragedy yet again highlighted the need for the swiftest peaceful solution to the acute crisis in Ukraine and noted that a thorough and unbiased investigation into all the circumstances of the air catastrophe was needed," the Kremlin said on Friday in a statement

The official Dutch government news service has not confirmed the conversation between the two leaders. The Kremlin says they released the statement shortly after Putin spoke with Rutte by phone.

Nearly 190 of the 298 people on the flight had Dutch nationality, according to the airline. The nationalities of four people onboard the flight have not been determined.

The Boeing 777 passenger plane crashed in area near the Russian border, where fighting has occurred between Ukraine's army and pro-Russian separatist. Kiev is accusing pro-Moscow separatists of shooting down the airliner with help from Russian intelligence representatives. Putin is attributing blame to Ukrainian's President Petro Poroshenko who refused to extend a cease-fire with the rebels.

Speaking from the Pentagon, American defense officials stated they are divided on whether the missile was launched by the Russian military or by pro-Russia separatist rebels, who some officials say lack the expertise on their own to bring down a commercial airliner in midflight. Early-warning satellites operated by the United States could have identified both a missile launch and its trajectory, the Los Angeles Times reported.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated that yesterday's events must lead to a political solution and an end to conflict between Russian and Ukraine. "What is important now is for an independent investigation to take place as soon as possible," she told reporters.

"For that, a ceasefire is needed, and then it is of course crucial for those responsible to be brought to justice."

Pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces have been fighting each other for three months now, killing more than 400 people and displacing tens of thousands.