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Editorial: U.S. should pressure Putin further

Russias President Vladimir Putin welcomes President Barack Obama

Russias President Vladimir Putin welcomes President Barack Obama at the start of the G20 summit in Saint Petersburg on Sept. 5, 2013. Credit: Getty Images

President Barack Obama is finally telling the world that the blood from the massacre of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 belongs on Vladimir Putin's hands.

The president Monday wrapped his comments in terms of simple human decency, focusing on the disrespect Putin and Ukrainian separatists have shown for the remains of the 298 victims. That's a good start to counter the propaganda of Putin-controlled media, which claim the CIA shot down the aircraft, and instead to build the case for international condemnation of Putin's actions. The world has to take sides, those who will denounce the Russian president's dangerous and thuggish meddling to destabilize neighboring Ukraine and those willing to stand with him.

Next Obama should declassify U.S. surveillance photographs and intercepts that track the timing and trajectory of the surface-to-air missile that blew the aircraft out of the sky on Thursday. He should also release information documenting Russian delivery of the sophisticated missile launcher and training of the rebels. Ronald Reagan used surveillance information to link Soviet fighter jets to the downing of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 over the Sea of Japan in 1983.

Putin expressed support for allowing international access to the crash site and for the human remains to be returned to their families. But that's not enough. Obama must also show a singular and determined focus in convincing European leaders, primarily the Germans, British and French, as well as U.S. companies, that they must accept some short-term losses to inflict pain on Russia. Economic sanctions should include a direct hit on the enormous wealth Putin has accumulated.

Violating international borders and shooting planes out of the sky is behavior that can't go unchecked.