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• 295 people on board plane that crashed in eastern Ukraine
• Bodies and wreckage found near town of Grabovo
• Uncertainty over who has capability to shoot down flight
• Ukrainian, Russian and rebel leaders deny involvement

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President Obama and President Putin discussed the crash of MH17 during a call this morning, as well as steps Russia could take to de-escalate the crisis in east Ukraine. The statement reads in part:

President Obama spoke with Russian President Putin today about the situation in Ukraine and the additional sanctions … President Obama also reiterated his concerns regarding the buildup of Russian forces near the Ukrainian border.

President Obama called on President Putin to take concrete steps to de-escalate the situation, including to press separatists to agree to a cease-fire, support a roadmap for negotiations, halt the flow of fighters and weapons into Ukraine, obtain the release of all hostages still held by the separatists, and work to establish an effective OSCE border-monitoring mechanism.

During the call, President Putin noted the early reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia-Ukraine border.

Sanctions put in place yesterday were ordered by the US due to perceived support of separatist rebels from Russia.

Continue reading:  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/17/malaysia-airlines-plane-crashes-ukraine-live

Commentary by The Secular Jurist:  The new round of U.S. sanctions against Russia specifically target its state-owned oil company Rosneft – the largest publicly-traded oil corporation in the world.  See:  U.S. sanctions set to slow Rosneft’s dollar debt, not oil deals.

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