US begins building case aimed at tying pro-Russian forces to plane shot down over Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States has begun building a case linking pro-Russian separatists to the downing of a passenger jet in Ukraine.

President Barack Obama says the U.S. believes the Malaysia Airlines plane was felled by a surface-to-air missile launched from an area near the Ukraine-Russia border that is controlled by Kremlin-backed separatists. Obama cautioned that the exact circumstances are still being determined, but also said the insurgents would not be capable of carrying out such an attack without Russia's support.

The president spoke shortly after the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, outlined preliminary evidence against Russia and the separatists during an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council. Samantha Power said separatists were spotted Thursday with an SA-11 anti-aircraft missile at a location close to the site where the plane came down and that they had boasted on social media sites about shooting down a plane, then later deleted those posts.

An American killed in the crash has been identified as Quinn Lucas Schansman. Officials are still working to confirm whether any other U.S. citizens were on board the plane.

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187-w-37-(Mark Smith, AP White House correspondent, with United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power and President Barack Obama)--President Obama and top aides have begun building their case that pro-Russian separatists fired the missile that shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine. AP White House Correspondent Mark Smith reports. (18 Jul 2014)

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APPHOTO DCSA103: President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the situation in Ukraine, Friday, July 18, 2014, in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. The president said one American was killed on the plane over Ukraine, and the airliner was shot down by a surface-to-air missile in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (18 Jul 2014)

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