News reports suggest the United States is building a case that would pin the blame for the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine on pro-Russian separatist forces.
But in a Friday press conference, President Barack Obama sounded less certain of who was behind the crash.
**Are Pro-Russia separatists in Eastern Ukraine and their Russian allies responsible for the crash? Brigham McCown, former Navy aviator who served as a transport and energy expert during the Bush administration, talks about this and more on CBN Newswatch, July 18.
Although he criticized Russia and President Vladimir Putin for fomenting the separatist civil war in Ukraine, when it came to who shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, the president seemed baffled.
"What we know right now, what we have confidence in saying right now, is a surface-to-air missile was fired and that's what brought the jet down. I think it's too early to guess the intentions that those who launched the surface-to-air missile might have had," he said.
But is that really all the U.S. knows?
According to Riki Ellison, founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, U.S. intelligence almost certainly tracked the missile hitting the plane and saw that it came from Russian-backed rebel forces.
"They would have known exactly where it was launched, where it was headed, and the rate at which it was traveling," he told the Los Angeles Times.
Also, Flight MH17 crashed just after the Russian-backed rebel leader, Igor Strelkin, boasted on a website of shooting down what he thought was a Ukrainian military plane. He wrote, 'We warned them not to fly in our skies.' Then the post was deleted.
Contrasting sharply from Obama's performance, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was clearly angry and minced no words as he pointed the finger squarely at Russia:
"This is not an accident. It's a crime," he charged. "I will stress again: It's not an accident, it's a crime. And criminals should not be allowed to get away with what they've done."
"We all know that there are problems in Ukraine," he continued. "We also know who is very substantially to blame for those problems, and the idea that Russia can somehow say that none of this has anything to do with them because it happened in Ukrainian airspace frankly does not stand up to any serious scrutiny."
The Thursday afternoon attack killed 298 people from nearly a dozen nations, including 80 children. The nations with the most passengers on the plane were as follows:
-The Netherlands, with 189 casualties
-Malaysia, with 44 casualties
-Australia, with 27 casualties
-Indonesian, with 12 casualties
-Britain, with nine casualties
Obama said there was one American aboard with dual citizenship and a large contingent of AIDS researchers heading to Australia.
He added that he'll wait to see what investigators find out.
"There has to be a credible international investigation into what happened," Obama said. "The U.N. Security Council has endorsed this investigation and we will hold all members, including Russia, to their word."