The State Department said Friday that the Obama administration was not prejudging the pending investigation into the Malaysian plane that was shot down over Ukraine, despite a blistering statement at the UN in which the U.S. ambassador placed the blame squarely at Russia’s feet.
At a Friday morning UN Security Council meeting, Ambassador Samantha Power singled out Russia as a possible source of technical expertise to pro-Russia separatists who shot down the plane, killing nearly 300 people. She also said the downed plane should be seen in the “context” of Russia’s effort to continue to destabilize Ukraine.
But later in the day State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki insisted that the administration has not and will not prejudge the outcome of the UN investigation. Psaki was pressed by two reporters who said Power’s comments make it sound like the U.S. has already concluded that Russia played a major role in the attack.
“That’s not at all what we said or what the president said or what the UN ambassador said,” Psaki said. “They laid out specific details of the events we’ve seen happening on the ground. All that is important context.
“But we’re not going to prejudge the outcome of the investigation,” she added. “We’re going to see the investigation through before we make a judgment.”
Psaki was then pressed on how the U.S. could know that an SA-11 missile system was used to bring the plane down, and that Russia likely helped procure this weapon or helped separatists use it, unless it has already completed its own investigation. Power asserted both of these as facts at the UN Friday morning.
Psaki said only that there is a “range of information” on the matter, some of which is publicly available. But she said it was not the intention of State to indicate that it has prejudged the investigation.
“We have not done our own investigation,” she said. “We’re participating in the international investigation.”
When told it sounds like State isn’t sure of some of its information, Psaki said, “I’m not saying we don’t know, I’m saying I don’t have any more information to share.”