MH17: Putin given 'last chance'

The Dutch govt has urged Vladimir Putin to act quickly to allow access to the rebel-held crash site.

Flowers and toys are left at the site of the crash of a Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in Hrabove, in rebel-held eastern Ukraine, on 19 July 2014. Picture: AFP.

HRABOVE - Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to act quickly to allow access to the rebel-held crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

The Dutch government, whose citizens made up most of the 298 on board MH17, said it was furious at the manhandling of corpses strewn for miles over open country and asked Ukraine's president for help to bring "our people" home.

Rutte stressed that the recovery of the victims must take place as soon as possible.

"Everyone that won't fully cooperate now leaves serious suspicion on themselves."

Ukraine also accused Russia and pro-Moscow rebels on Saturday of destroying evidence to cover up their guilt in the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner that has accelerated a showdown between the Kremlin and Western powers.

The deadliest attack on a commercial airliner, it scattered bodies over miles of rebel-held territory near the border with Russia.

The loss was the second devastating blow for Malaysia Airlines and the country this year, following the disappearance of Flight MH370 in March with 239 passengers and crew on board on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

As militants kept international monitors away from wreckage and scores of bodies festered for a third day, Putin urged the rebels to cooperate and insisted that a United Nations (UN) mandated investigation must not leap to conclusions. Moscow denies involvement and has pointed a finger at Kiev's military.

After US President Barack Obama said the loss of the Kuala Lumpur-bound flight showed it was time to end the conflict, Germany called it Moscow's last chance to cooperate.

European powers seemed to swing behind Washington's belief that Russia's separatist allies were to blame. That might speed new trade sanctions on Moscow, without waiting for definitive proof.

Britain, which lost 10 citizens, said further sanctions were available for use against Russia.

Prime Minister David Cameron, writing in The Sunday Times, said European countries should make their power count in dealing with the Ukraine crisis, "yet we sometimes behave as if we need Russia more than Russia needs us."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the most powerful figure in the EU, spoke to Putin on Saturday, urging his cooperation.

Germany, reliant like other EU states on Russian energy and more engaged in Russian trade than the United States, has been reluctant to escalate a confrontation with Moscow that has revived memories of the Cold War. But with military action not seen as an option, economic leverage is a vital instrument.