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Hammond: West 'Losing Sympathy For Israel'

Written By andika jamanta on Kamis, 24 Juli 2014 | 18.25

Key Dates In The Gaza-Israel Conflict

Updated: 11:43am UK, Thursday 24 July 2014

Israel's ground offensive in the Gaza Strip continues with forces attempting to destroy Hamas' weapons arsenal and rocketing-firing capabilities.

Here are the key events from the fighting that preceded and have followed Israel's operation:

July 8 - Israel launches "Operation Protective Edge" in a bid to quell near-daily militant rocket attacks in the aftermath of the abduction and killing of a Palestinian teenager in what appeared to be a revenge attack for the seizure and slaying of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in June.

July 9 - Hamas rockets rain deep into Israel as the military pummels Palestinian targets. The military says 74 rockets landed in Israel, including in the northern city of Hadera, the deepest rocket strike ever from Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Hamas will pay a "heavy price".

July 10 - Israel intensifies its bombardment. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urges an immediate ceasefire but neither side shows much interest in halting the fighting.

July 11 - Mr Netanyahu vows to press forward with a broad military offensive. The Israeli military says it has hit more than 1,100 targets, mostly rocket-launching sites, while Palestinian militants fired more than 600 rockets at Israel. The Lebanese military says militants there fired three rockets toward Israel and the Israelis retaliated with about 25 artillery shells.

July 12 - Gaza City becomes a virtual ghost town as streets empty, shops close and hundreds of thousands of people keep close to home. The death toll rises to more than 156 Palestinians after more than 1,200 Israeli air strikes.

July 13 - Israel widens its campaign, targeting civilian institutions with suspected Hamas ties, and briefly deploys ground troops inside Gaza to raid a rocket launching site. Four Israeli soldiers are hurt during the brief incursion. Egypt, a key mediator between Israel and Hamas, continues to work behind the scenes.

July 14 - Israel says it's downed an unmanned drone along its southern coastline. Egypt presents a cease-fire plan that is praised by President Barack Obama at a White House dinner celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

July 15 - Israeli Cabinet accepts Egypt's truce plan, halting fire for six hours but Hamas rejects the proposal, instead unleashing more rockets at Israel and prompting Israel to resume heavy bombardment. Rocket fire kills an Israeli man delivering food to soldiers, the first Israeli fatality in the fighting. Four Gaza boys, all cousins, are killed on a beach by shells fired from a navy ship.

July 16 - Hamas fires dozens of rockets into Israel, vowing not to agree to a ceasefire until its demands are met. The Gaza Interior Ministry's website says Israeli warplanes carried out dozens of airstrikes, targeting 30 houses, including those of four senior Hamas leaders. Later, both Israel and Hamas agree to a five-hour UN brokered "humanitarian" pause to start the following day.

July 17 - Both sides trade fire in run-up to the brief truce, which Gazans use to restock on food and other supplies. Israel says it foiled an attack by 13 Gaza militants who infiltrated through a tunnel. Fierce fighting resumes after the truce expires, including an airstrike that kills three Palestinian children. After nightfall, the Israeli military launches a ground invasion into Gaza Strip.

July 18 - Eight members of the same Palestinian family - two men, two women and four children - are killed by Israeli tank fire as the ground offensive to date claims the lives of 51 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier.

July 19 - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he wants to meet both sides to try to secure a truce as Israel pledges to step up its ground offensive. Hamas says its fighters are "behind enemy lines" as security alerts are triggered in southern Israel.

July 20 - Fresh airstrikes, artillery shelling and gun battles overnight kill 12 Palestinians and two more Israeli soldiers, as Israel intensifies its ground offensive in Gaza. Israeli minister Naftali Bennett defends the ground offensive in Gaza and accuses Hamas of "self-genocide" by using women and children as human shields.

July 21 - Another airstrike kills 26 members of the same family, while seven more Israeli soldiers die in gun battles with Hamas fighters. Thirty of those wounded in the attack are reportedly medical staff.

July 22 - The Palestinian leadership proposes a ceasefire plan to mediators in Egypt which would be followed by five days of negotiations to stop the fighting which has claimed the lives of more than 600 Palestinians, many of them women and children, and 29 Israelis, including 27 soldiers.

July 23 - An international inquiry into Israel's actions in Gaza is launched, after the UN's Human Rights Commissioner says there is a "strong possibility" the country is guilty of war crimes. Several major airlines from the US, Europe and Canada suspend flights to and from Israel after a rocket fired from Gaza lands near Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion international airport.

July 24 - British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond warns Benjamin Netanyahu the West is losing sympathy for Israel amid the rising number of civilian deaths during its offensive in Gaza, as international efforts to end the conflict intensify. However, hopes of an effective ceasefire quickly diminish after Israel vows to continue hunting Palestinian cross-border tunnels under any humanitarian truce, while Hamas also rejects a truce without the lifting of Israel's eight-year blockade of Gaza.


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Gaza Conflict From Space In 'Saddest Photo'

An astronaut has posted a picture from the International Space Station while flying over Gaza and Israel, showing the worsening crisis which has left more than 700 people dead.

German flight engineer Alexander Gerst captured the scene from 220 miles above the Earth as rockets and explosions lit up the night sky with wispy yellow light.

His photo quickly went viral on the internet as he tweeted the message: "My saddest photo yet. From #ISS we can actually see explosions and rockets flying over #Gaza & #Israel."

Tens of thousands around the world shared the image as international pressure grows to stop the bloodshed in Gaza.

The UN Human Rights Council says there is a "strong possibility" Israel is guilty of war crimes in Gaza, where some 715 Palestinians, including 165 children, have died in the fighting.

German astronaut Alexander Gerst German flight engineer Alexander Gerst on the ISS. Pic: Alexander Gerst

It also condemned the indiscriminate firing of rockets and mortars by the Islamist movement Hamas into Israel, where 34 lives have been lost.

The continued fighting has led to the cancellation of many flights into Tel Aviv and has sparked protests and claims of growing anti-Semitism around the world.

Thousands of protesters - many shouting slogans such as "Israel killer" - held demonstrations in the French cities of Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, Lille and Reims on Wednesday.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve warned activists that anyone caught shouting "Death to the Jews!" or burning an Israeli flag would be arrested.

After the marches, 16 people were held in the Jewish quarter of Paris' Marais district after attempting to break into a restaurant while yelling "anti-Semitic insults," a police source said.

Other protests have also taken place outside the Israeli embassy in London.

Britain's Jewish community has seen a doubling of anti-Semitic incidents over the last few weeks, according to the Jewish Community Trust.

It has issued an advisory notice to all UK Jewish venues, warning that security procedures should be "rigorously followed".

In Austria, Israeli football team Maccabi Haifa's game against French side Lille had to be stopped after pro-Palestinian protesters stormed the pitch and attacked the Maccabi players.

Germany has condemned anti-Semitic chants and threats heard at some protests in the country.

A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel reassured the Jewish community they are safe and said the government "will continue to campaign for the security of Jewish citizens".

Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, the Israeli ambassador to Germany, said: "They pursue the Jews in the streets of Berlin ... as if we were in 1938."


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Passenger Jet Carrying 116 Vanishes From Radar

A passenger plane has disappeared from radar while flying from the West African country of Burkina Faso.

The jet carrying 110 passengers and six crew was travelling from Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou to the Algerian capital Algiers when it vanished around 50 minutes into the flight.

"In keeping with procedures, Air Algerie has launched its emergency plan," Algeria's APS state news agency quoted the airline as saying.

Flight AH5017 is owned by Spanish private airline Swiftair and operated by Air Algerie.

Swiftair said the aircraft took off from Burkina Faso at 1.17am local time and was supposed to land in Algiers at 5.10am local time but never reached its destination.

The McDonnell Douglas MD-83 had been missing for hours before news of its disappearance was made public.

Its flight path was not immediately clear.

Ouagadougou is in a nearly straight line south of Algiers, separated by Mali where unrest continues in the north of the country.

Airlines had been warned not to fly over Mali in recent days, Sky News understands.

However, a senior French official said it is unlikely that fighters in Mali could shoot down a plane.

They are known to have shoulder-fired weapons which could not hit an aircraft travelling at a cruising altitude of some 33,000ft.

Sky's Alistair Bunkall said there are reports in the Algerian media that the plane crashed after running out of fuel.

But given the plane was 50 minutes - or about 300 miles - into its journey that is unlikely to be a cause, he said.

Swiftair has a fleet of more than 30 planes flying in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

More follows...


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Check-In Staff Haunted By Memories Of MH17

Written By andika jamanta on Rabu, 23 Juli 2014 | 18.25

A ground steward who checked passengers onto the doomed Malaysia Airlines plane has posted a moving tribute to them on Facebook.

Renuka Manisha Virangna Birbal wrote the message after the Boeing 777 was shot down over Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 298 passengers and crew on board.

In the note, which has been shared thousands of times, she describes grandmothers taking photos of their grandchildren, a newly married couple flying off on their honeymoon and a man who was about to start a new life in Malaysia.

She also mentioned a young girl with her mother, as well as colleagues from a ticket counter, boarding the flight at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

People look at a sea of flowers outside Schiphol Airport in memory of the victims of the crashed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 Hundreds of bouquets have been left at the airport to remember the victims

"A beautiful little girl held by her mother, her father behind them pushing the stroller," she wrote.

"She is beautiful - half Dutch, half Malaysian, with beautiful big eyes. She smiled kindly at me.

"Suddenly I see a familiar face. It is our colleague from the MH ticket counter.

"He proudly shows me his son, wife and daughter. With a big smile he waved, 'See you soon.'"

Condolence book is seen on a table outside the departure hall, in the wake of the downed Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777, at Schiphol Airport A book of condolence has been opened inside the terminal building

Ms Birbal was one of the last people to see the passengers before they boarded flight MH17.

She described children waving and smiling at her and remembered one asking her mother: "When do we see our luggage again?"

She ended the message with: "The last time I saw them, talked to them and wished them a pleasant flight ... (I saw) one last smile, one last salute, a happy face.

"Rest in peace, dear passengers and crew. On behalf of the ground handling agents of flight MH17."


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Second Plane With MH17 Bodies Leaves Ukraine

The first victims recovered from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 have started their journey back to the Netherlands from the crash site in eastern Ukraine.

A sombre departure ceremony took place at Kharkiv Airport as wooden coffins containing some of the bodies were loaded onto a Dutch C130 Hercules military aircraft.

It left the airbase for Eindhoven where it will be met by relatives, the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and members of the Dutch royal family.

A faster Australian Boeing C17 took off two hours later carrying more victims and is due to land in Eindhoven at the same time.

A worker uses a forklift to load coffins containing remains of Malaysia Airlines MH17 victims on to a plane at Kharkiv airport Coffins are loaded onto a plane at Kharkiv Airport

Sky's Michelle Clifford, at the airport, said: "The real difficulty is planes are going to be coming in with bodies on board - but none of those families know whether their loved ones are going to be on those planes."

Ukraine's deputy prime minister Volodymyr Groysman told those gathered the downing of the plane was an "inhumane terrorist act" carried out with help from Russia, adding Kiev will do everything in its power to bring those guilty to justice.

The jet's black box flight data recorders have been delivered to British experts from the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch at Farnborough in Hampshire to download over the next 24 hours and the information handed to international investigators for analysis.

A national day of mourning has been declared in the Netherlands for the 298 people killed, the majority of whom were Dutch, and will include a silent march in Amsterdam.

flowers placed in remembrance for the victims of the MH17 plane crash at Schiphol Airport, near Amsterdam floral tributes for the victims of MH17 at Schiphol Airport, near Amsterdam

A minute's silence will be held before a motorcade takes the bodies to the Korporaal van Oudheusden military barracks in Hilversum, where the long process of identifying the remains, aided by a team of British police officers, begins. It could take weeks or even months.

The Boeing 777-200 took off from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport for Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia last Thursday when it was brought down near Grabovo, Donetsk, where Ukrainian forces have been battling separatists.

Five refrigerated wagons containing 200 bodies were released by rebels. It is thought more than 80 bodies have been left at the scene.

However, Australia's prime minister Tony Abbott said it was unclear how many bodies may have arrived in Kharkiv - and been left behind.

"It's quite possible that many bodies are still out there in the open, in the European summer, subject to interference and subject to the ravages of heat and animals," he said.

A Malaysian air crash investigator inspects the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Rozsypne, Donetsk region A Malaysian air crash investigator inspects the crash site of MH17

Sky's Chief Correspondent Stuart Ramsay, in Donetsk, said it was going to be "difficult" to find the unrecovered human remains, as while a ceasefire was in place at the crash site, the surroundings remain "a war zone"..

A senior US intelligence official said they believed pro-Russian separatists shot down the flight by mistake.

He confirmed evidence suggests the Russian government was not directly involved in causing the crash, but it "created the conditions" for the plane to be brought down by the rebels.

The official added Moscow was still supplying separatists with tanks and rocket launchers.


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MH17: 'Plan To Drop Other Plane Parts At Site'

Pro-Russian separatists talked about moving bodies from the Malaysia Airlines crash site in Ukraine, according to Sky sources.

UK intelligence officials have gathered evidence that indicates rebels discussed removing victims' remains from the fields of Grabavo, in eastern Ukraine.

Sky sources add that the separatists also considered sending the black boxes to Moscow and scattering parts of other other planes on the crash site to confuse investigators.

More follows...


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Russia Faces 'Hard-Hitting' Sanctions Over MH17

Written By andika jamanta on Selasa, 22 Juli 2014 | 18.25

Europe's Russia Sanctions Avoid Self-Harm

Updated: 9:49am UK, Tuesday 22 July 2014

By Ed Conway, Economics Editor

Sanctions against Russia have now been in place since its annexation of Crimea in March - but following the flight MH17 disaster, all the signs are that they will soon be reinforced.

So what, precisely, do the current sanctions consist of, have they been at all successful, and what might they be followed up with?

In short, the current set of restrictions are, in the jargon, referred to as "stage-two" sanctions.

Rather than affecting the entire economy, or entire sectors, they are forensically focused restrictions on a few individuals and smallish companies.

Both the US and Europe have imposed visa restrictions and asset freezes on a number of influential Russians. The US list is longer and includes a number of President Vladimir Putin's most senior advisers.

Neither jurisdiction has yet added the president to the sanctions list, as was done with Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, for instance.

The US has also imposed financial blocks on two small banks, one of which Putin claimed never to have heard of.

The day before the crash last week, it also extended the restrictions to a couple of oil companies, including Rosneft, the country's biggest oil producer.

However, it's worth noting that these are purely financial restrictions, preventing the companies from raising cash in the US, rather than stopping them from pumping oil out of the ground and around the world.

While the EU has signalled it will stop European Investment Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development programmes in Russia, it has stopped short of more severe sanctions.

Why? In large part because of its reliance on Russia for trade. A full 15% of Russia's gas exports end up in Germany. Some 17% of its trade goes to the Netherlands, though this is probably an over-estimate because much of that is merely passing through the port of Antwerp.

While Mediterranean parts of the continent have less direct economic exposure to Russia, save for Italy, which sucks in 9% of Russia's gas, they are also desperate not to upend any chances of an economic recovery following the euro crisis.

It's very difficult indeed to find any evidence that the sanctions themselves have made much difference.

The Russian economy is in a recession, but it was already heading in that direction before the Ukraine crisis.

And while investment and share prices have both fallen in Moscow, that seems due to fear of "proper" sanctions rather than the semi-sanctions now in place.

So what more can be done? The short answer is to extend the sanctions to some sectors, or some mega-companies, and individuals.

Open Europe's Raoul Ruparel thinks a three-pronged approach, involving roughly equal sacrifice from the continent's biggest players, would be most reasonable: Some financial sanctions (which would hurt Britain); some arms sanctions (which would hurt France) and some manufacturing and technology sanctions (which would hurt Germany).

But such system-wide sanctions - "stage three" measures, as they are called - are far from decided.

They would be deeply controversial, and raise the risk, feared by all in Europe, that Putin could retaliate by cutting off the gas supply to Europe.


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MH17: Families And Futures 'Ruined' By Crash

The girlfriend of one of the Britons killed when flight MH17 was shot down has spoken of the "happy memories" of their time together, adding: "I just wish there could be future ones too."

Abby Clark's boyfriend Richard Mayne, a Leeds University student, died along with 297 others when the Malaysia Airlines plane came down in Ukraine last week.

Hundreds of people moved by his death have donated money to an online fundraising page for disadvantaged children, which the 20-year-old set up for a charity trek to Everest base camp earlier this year.

In an emotional Facebook post, Ms Clark, from Leicester, said: "I honestly can't believe what has happened and what I am writing. Sleep tight, Richard.

Abby Clark's tribute to her boyfriend, Richard Mayne, MH17 victim Richard Mayne had been studying in Leeds. Pic: Abby Clark/Facebook

"Not only were you my boyfriend for five years, you were so much more.

"You are my best friend, my rock and I don't know what to do without you now.

"Reading through everyone's messages to you makes me feel so proud to have been in your life. You have so many people in awe of you, including myself.

"I just keep feeling like you're going to walk in the kitchen and everything (will get) back to normal.

"I need you so bad right now, baby. I have so many happy memories of us that will stay with me forever.

Members of the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry work at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove, Donetsk region The Malaysia Airlines plane crashed near Grabovo in eastern Ukraine

"I just wish more than anything there could be future ones too.

"I love you (and I) always will."

Ms Clark's grief was shared by the father of Elsemiek de Borst, one of 192 Dutch passengers who were on board the downed Boeing 777.

In an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin that has been widely shared online, Hans de Borst wrote: "Thank you, Mr Putin, separatist leaders or the Ukrainian government, for murdering my loved and only child.

"I hope you're proud to have shot her and that you can look at yourself in the mirror."

Elsemiek de Borst, MH17 victim Elsemiek de Borst was going on holiday. Pic: Hans de Borst/Facebook

He signs the letter as "Elsemiek's father, whose life is ruined".

The bodies of many of those killed in last week's crash have been taken by train to the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, where they will handed over to Dutch officials.

They will then be flown to the Netherlands, where relatives have gathered, desperate to lay their loved ones to rest.

Allegations of looting at the crash site in Grabovo, where victims' wallets and purses have reportedly been emptied, will have added to the families' distress.

Sky News correspondents at the scene said they had seen no proof of rebels rifling through passengers' belongings.

But Anton Geraschchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian minister of internal affairs, said: "Death hunters are collecting not only the cash and jewellery of the victims but also their credit cards.

"They might try to use them in Ukraine or pass them on to Russia, and my humble request to the relatives of the victims is to freeze their cards, so they won't lose their assets to terrorists."


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MH17 Crash Victims' Bodies Arrive At Station

A train carrying many of the victims of flight MH17 has arrived in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, where the bodies will be handed over to Dutch officials.

The refrigerated wagons made the 186-mile (300km) journey from Torez overnight, after armed separatists who had been guarding the carriages allowed them to leave.

Inside were up to 280 bodies, which will now be flown to the Netherlands where two-thirds of the 298 victims came from.

Senior Ukrainian separatist leader Borodai speaks during a handover of Malaysia Airlines MH17's black boxes to Malaysian Colonel Sakri, in Donetsk. Borodai (L) hands over the black boxes to Col Sakri (R)

The train's arrival comes after rebel leaders in eastern Ukraine handed over the black boxes from the downed passenger plane to Malaysian experts.

As the flight recorders were placed on a desk, Aleksander Borodai, prime minister of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic, told a packed room at the separatists' headquarters: "Here they are, the black boxes."

Malaysian Colonel Mohamed Sakri said the boxes, which may hold crucial evidence, are "intact, although a bit damaged".

However, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott also warned evidence had been interfered with on an "industrial scale", saying there is "still a long, long way to go".

The train carrying the 280 bodies recovered from the downed Malaysian flight MH17 arrives in Kharkiv The train carrying the bodies of many of the victims arrives in Kharkiv

"After the crime comes the cover-up," he added.

As the diplomatic fallout from the disaster continues, EU foreign ministers will discuss imposing new sanctions on Russia.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: "We have an opportunity to send a very clear message to Russia. We're obviously pleased there's been movement on the repatriation of victims and that some access has been granted to the site.

"But we mustn't forget the overall context. This terrible incident happened because of Russia's support to the separatists in eastern Ukraine and because of the flow of heavy weapons from Russia into Ukraine, and we have to address that."

A satellite image of the MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine. Pic: DigitalGlobe. A satellite image of the wreckage of MH17. Pic: DigitalGlobe

Moscow has called for the investigation into the shooting down of the plane to be led by the "international community" and not Ukraine, after yet more accusations were traded between Russia and Ukraine over who is to blame.

Lyudmila Vorobyeva, the Russian ambassador to Malaysia, told a news conference the probe should be led by the United Nation's International Civil Aviation Organisation.

"The rebels, as we understand, do not trust the government of Kiev," said Ms Vorobyeva.

"That's why they were reluctant to hand over anything (including) the black boxes."

Parts of the wreckage are seen at a crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove. Part of the wreckage of flight MH17, which had 298 people on board

She added that audio recordings of rebels admitting shooting down the plane are "fake" and a "compilation of different conversations".

Meanwhile, a ceasefire within a six-mile (10km) radius of the crash site will be put in place so international investigators can examine the wreckage of the Boeing 777 that was shot down near Grabovo last week.

It comes after fighting between separatists and pro-Ukrainian groups flared in Donetsk, some 40 miles (60km) from the crash site.

Health officials said four people were killed in Monday's clashes, while rebel military commander Igor Strelkov said up to 12 of his men died in the fighting.


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Russians Oblivious To Growing Anger Over MH17

Written By andika jamanta on Senin, 21 Juli 2014 | 18.25

On a busy street in central Moscow, a well-dressed man stands yelling at the crowd: "Don't you understand? There will be a war!"

All around him, people walk by, wholly uninterested. It's a hot summer's day, they're enjoying the sun.

Save for a couple of tourists taking pictures, no-one pays much attention at all.

The friend of a friend who saw this posted the news on Facebook. 

Flowers and messages left by local residents for victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 are pictured outside the Dutch embassy in Kiev A message left among tributes outside the Dutch embassy in Kiev, Ukraine

Someone responded with a cartoon of Homer Simpson holding a sign that says: "The End is Near".

There are people here who are genuinely concerned about the direction Russia is heading under Vladimir Putin, but they are very much in the minority.

Anyone watching Russian state TV (from which, according to a Levada Centre poll, an estimated 94% of population get their news) would have little idea of the weight of the international outrage building against their leader and the threat of serious sanctions to come.

Special report 4.30pm and 8.30pm

Instead, they will be treated to a rundown of the "10 questions Ukraine's government must answer", and clips of Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, insisting that any accusation of Russian involvement is "unfounded" and that he "hasn't heard anything truthful from Kiev for months".

This will not surprise viewers who have spent those months listening to condemnation of the "junta" in Kiev, which they have regularly been told is controlled by fascists.

The morning after the crash, some Russian newspapers didn't even cover it.

Crash scene Pro-Russian separatists have denied being behind the downing of the plane

The official state newspaper, Rossiskaya Gazeta, decided the loss of 298 lives was not its top story, leading instead with an "exclusive investigation" into what Russians eat and drink, the fate of flight MH17 relegated to the bottom of the page.

So there is no real outrage, no clamour for Mr Putin to act, no widespread fear that under his leadership Russia could be about to become a pariah state.

On the contrary, Mr Putin's approval ratings are at an all-time high.

After the annexation of Crimea, his popularity hit 83%.

For all of the stern diplomatic dressings down he received, in Russia it was a genuinely wildly popular move.

MH17 plane crash. A pro-Russian separatist holds up a stuffed toy found at the crash site

But those inside the Kremlin also know how precariously Russia's economy is poised, and how rapidly that popularity could evaporate if sectoral sanctions are applied, hitting the oil and gas revenues on which the Russian books depend.

Mr Putin's presidency has coincided for the majority with an increase in living standards, an influx of western technology and designer goods, the ability to enjoy holidays abroad.

But for all of the projection of Russia's military might of late, its economy is starting to look quite fragile, with growth grinding to a halt, and an estimated $75bn worth of capital leaving the country so far this year.

Mr Putin knows real biting economic sanctions could hurt Russia, and him personally.

But he knows it will hurt Europe too.

The question now is whether he really believes European leaders will follow all their words with any meaningful action.


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