Daily Video

July 22, 2014

Obama demands full cooperation for Malaysia Airlines crash investigation


Inspire students to think about the role of international diplomacy in the investigation of the Malaysian plane that was shot down over Ukraine with this PBS NewsHour video and educational resource from July 21, 2014. President Barack Obama called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to allow international investigators full access to the crash site in the war-torn region of Ukraine.

Key Vocabulary

commercial plane – this plane carries regular passengers and is the opposite of a military plane.
separatists – people who support the separation of a particular group of people from a larger group. In this case, separatists are Ukrainians who wish to join with Russia.
insurgent – a rebel or revolutionary.
economic sanctions – penalties applied by one country on another country.

Key Places


ukraine map

Source: CIA World Fact Book

President Barack Obama sternly called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to compel Russian-backed separatists to allow international investigators full access to the crash site in Ukraine.
“We have to make sure the truth is out and accountability exists,” Obama said Monday.

Obama accused the separatists of removing evidence and bodies from the site, actions that he said raise the question of “what exactly are they trying to hide?”
The White House blames the separatists for shooting down the Malaysia Airlines plane carrying nearly 300 people. Officials have also pointed a finger at Russia, arguing that it would be all but impossible for the insurgents to operate the sophisticated missile system without some level of assistance from Russia.

Behind the scenes, the U.S. is also pressing the European Union to increase economic sanctions on Russia for its actions in Ukraine. Europe does more business with Russia and is worried that sanctions could boomerang and harm European Union economies. However, given the large number of Europeans killed in last week’s plane crash, U.S. officials believe the EU may be more motivated to act.

Obama said now is the time for Putin to “get serious” about resolving the crisis in Ukraine, warning that failure to do so will result in further isolation and economic costs.

Warm up questions

1. Where is Ukraine?
2. Why might a plane crash involve the leaders of several different countries?
3. What are some examples of occasions when the president of the United States addresses the entire country?

Discussion questions

1. Why is it important for international investigators to be able to examine the crash site?
2. Why has the U.S. been careful not to directly blame Russia or the separatists for the plane crash? What might happen if they did?

Writing prompt

Although facts seem to indicate that pro-Russian separatists shot down a commercial airplane over Ukraine, there are still many unanswered questions about what happened. What role might politics play in how the tragedy has been handled? Make sure to use the text and video to support your answers.

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