President Obama is scheduled to make a statement at 11:30 AM ET from the White House on the situation in Ukraine in the aftermath of the downing of Malaysia Air flight 17. A live feed is embedded above, and we will post updates throughout his remarks.
In related news, just a few minutes ago U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power said at a meeting of the U.N. Security council that the plane "was likely downed by a surface-to-air missile, an SA-11, operated from a separatist-held location in eastern Ukraine." She also made it clear that the U.S. does not believe Ukraine is responsible, and instead believes the Russian military provided the weapon system used to down the plane and may have actively participated in the shoot down operation:
“Because of the technical complexity of the SA-11, it is unlikely that the separatists could effectively operate the system without assistance from knowledgeable personnel, thus we cannot rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel in operating the systems,” Ms. Power said. “The Ukrainians do have SA-11 systems in their inventory, however, we are not aware of any Ukrainian SAM systems in the area of the shoot-down and, more importantly, sine the beginning of this crisis, Ukrainian forces have not fired a single missile.”Meanwhile, the flight and data recorders from the plane are apparently missing, a development that is sure to become a major issue in the aftermath of the plane's downing.
8:19 AM PT: Obviously, the embed above has a title card wholly different than what you would expect for the statement. However, it's the active live feed currently on the White House YouTube page, and I believe it will be the one containing the president's remarks. If that changes, I'll swap out the embed and note having done so in an update.
8:22 AM PT: Found the correct embed, now reflected above. Just a confusing YouTube interface. (At least it was confusing to me. Hope that says more about YouTube than it does about me...)
8:44 AM PT: President Obama hasn't started delivering his remarks yet—as is normal for these sorts of events, things are running a bit behind schedule.
8:53 AM PT: And here's the president.
8:53 AM PT: The president on those aboard MH17: "Their deaths are an outrage of unspeakable proportion. We know at least one American citizen was killed."
8:54 AM PT: President Obama says he's spoken with leaders of the nations whose citizens were lost on the flight. "The evidence indicates the plane was shout down by a surface-to-air missile from an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine."
8:56 AM PT: The president notes that separatists in this region have shot down—and claimed responsibility for shooting down—aircraft in the area. He notes that Russia has supplied these separatists.
8:57 AM PT: The president says an honest investigation must take place. He calls for an immediate cease fire. Noting that the UN Security Council has endorsed an investigation, he says he will hold Russia to their word in allowing the investigation. "The eyes of the world are on eastern Ukraine and we are going to make sure that the truth is out."
8:58 AM PT: "Time and again Russia has refused to take the necessary steps to de-escalate the situation." Russia, says Obama, "has continued to violate Ukrainian sovereignty."
9:01 AM PT: President Obama also discusses the situation in Israel and Gaza and said he reaffirmed U.S. support for Israel's right to defend itself, but expressed concern the possibility of civilian casualties.
9:03 AM PT: The first question is whether the U.S. believes the flight was specifically targeted (vs. a case of mistaken identity). Obama: "I think it's too early for us to guess what the intentions" were of the people who shot the flight down. He said that information should be revealed in the coming days or weeks.
9:06 AM PT: On the question of sanctions: "I made clear to Mr. Putin that our preferred path is to resolve this diplomatically." But that means, the president says, that Putin needs to decide between supporting "violent separatists" or working with the Ukrainian government. "As Russia engages in efforts that are supporting separatists, we have the capacity to increase the costs that we impose" because "a country's sovereignty and territorial integrity needs to be respected."
On a U.S. military role: "We don't see a military role beyond what" is already happening.
9:08 AM PT: "A group of separatists can't shoot down [aircraft such as MH17] without sophisticated military equipment, and that is coming from Russia."
9:10 AM PT: "The violence that is taking place [...] is facilitated in large part by Russian support." Putin, he says, can decide to end violence by ceasing support for the separatists. If that happens, "then it will stop." Obama says of Putin: "He has the most control over that situation."
9:12 AM PT: Asked about whether there could be more than one American who was on the flight: "At this point," says Obama, there is only one person that has been identified with a U.S. passport who was on board the flight, but he says he won't rule out the possibility that there were more. However, it is currently "our best assessment" of the number of Americans aboard.
9:14 AM PT: On global economic fallout: We're confident that "the sanctions were putting in place are imposing a cost on Russia" but not the global economy. However he does say it's a "relevant concern" because the economy is global and Russia has a significant economy. And with that, the president leaves the podium and exits the briefing room.