President Obama on Monday said international investigators must be granted "immediate and full access" to the site where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed, and he questioned why the pro-Russian separatists controlling the area are reportedly removing key evidence.
"All of which begs the question: What exactly are they trying to hide?" he said.
Rebels over the weekend reportedly seized at gunpoint the bodies of some 200 crash victims and loaded them on to train cars. The separatists also recovered the plane's black boxes, though they promised to turn them over to investigators.
Speaking from the White House, Obama also called on Russia to prod the rebels into working with the international community, saying Moscow and President Vladimir Putin in particular had a "direct responsibility to compel them to cooperate." Then pivoting to the broader conflict in eastern Ukraine, Obama warned Russia that it would face more consequences should it continue to aid the rebels with training and equipment. However, he declined to say what those consequences could be, saying only that "costs will increase."