Cadaver dogs assist in Ukraine crash site search
(CNN) — Cadaver dogs are helping 70 experts scour the debris field of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 for remains, according to the the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which is monitoring the search of the crash site in eastern Ukraine.
Another long day lies ahead, with work focused on the recovery of victims, the OSCE said on Twitter.
Saturday marks the third day monitors and experts have had unrestricted access to the site, more than two weeks after the Boeing 777 was brought down by a suspected surface-to-air missile, killing all 298 people aboard.
Pro-Russia rebels have denied allegations from Ukraine and the West that they shot down the commercial airliner, or that Russia supplied equipment used to shoot it down.
High-level negotiations between Ukraine and the rebels were necessary to allow the team of Dutch and Australian experts and their convoy of vehicles to cross and re-cross front lines in order to get to the crash site.
The team set up a new base in the town of Soledar, to the northwest of the debris field, said Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, head of the Dutch recovery mission.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said government forces would seek to maintain a halt in hostilities on the route to the crash site.
Still, the recovery mission has personnel in the cities of Kharkiv and Donetsk, the latter a rebel stronghold that has seen fighting this week.
Fighting continues away from crash site
On Friday 10 Ukrainian paratroopers were killed near Shakhtarsk, less than 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the crash area, when their convoy came under attack from rebel forces, according to the Facebook page of Ukraine’s Counter-Terrorist Operation.
Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko said at a briefing Friday that Russia was “actively preparing firing positions for shelling Ukrainian territory” and has positioned 17 Grad rocket systems in its Bryansk region, about three miles from the border with Ukraine, according to Ukraine’s Ukrinform news agency.
Russia blasts EU for arms supply
Russia is accusing the European Union of lifting a ban on military supplies to Ukraine “on the quiet.”
In a statement released Saturday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the EU is using a “double standard” in lifting the ban, which was imposed in February during pro-European demonstration in Kiev.
“We urge our colleagues in the EU to follow common sense and not just listen to Washington’s instructions.” the statement said. “It is still not too late to renew the ban now.”
On Friday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden announced about $8 million in new assistance to the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service. It includes “engineering equipment for improving infrastructure along Ukraine’s borders, transport and patrol vehicles, surveillance equipment to extend the visual range of border security patrols, and small boats to conduct maritime patrol and interdiction operations.”
“I have no idea” what Russia is talking about, an EU spokesman told CNN, but said he is looking into it.
CNN’s Pavel Drotenko and Radina Gigova contributed to this report.