WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) -- President Obama said the United States has "increasing confidence" that the missile that shot down a Malaysian jetliner came from Russian separatists in Ukraine -- and that Russia bears some responsibility for the crisis.
"Evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile from an area that is controlled by Russian backed separatists inside Ukraine," Obama said in his first extensive remarks on the passenger jet crash. "A group of separatists can't shoot down military transport planes or, they claim, fighter jets, without sophisticated military equipment, and that comes from Russia."
The president confirmed that at least one American citizen was on board, and that U.S. officials could not yet definitively rule out other victims with American or dual citizenship..
Obama said the crash is a "wake up call for Europe and the world" that the Ukraine crisis is not a localized, contained problem. He renewed his calls for an immediate cease fire and for Russia to end their support of arms to separatists in Eastern Ukraine.
In his only remarks Thursday after learning of the Malaysian passenger jet crash over Ukraine, Obama said his first priority was to determine whether any Americans were among the 298 on board. Friday, he said U.S. officials had identified at least one American on board and could not rule out others.
Obama noted that about a hundred AIDS researchers and activists were reportedly on the flight, headed to a conference in Australia.
"These were men and women who dedicated their own lives to saving the lives of others, and they were taken from us in a senseless act of violence," he said. "It's important for us to lift them up and affirm their lives."