Obama to speak on Ukraine at 11:30

July 18, 2014

President Obama will speak about the situation in Ukraine at 11:30 a.m., according to the White House

A Malaysian Airlines jet with 295 people on board was shot down Thursday over Ukraine. Ukraine has blamed pro-Russian separatists for taking down the plane; teh rebels have denied involvement.

Obama briefly addressed the crash Thursday, saying the "world is watching" reports of the downed airliner.

“It looks like might be a terrible tragedy,” he said, adding that his team is trying to determine whether there were any Americans onboard the plane. “That is our first priority.”

“The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened, and why,” he said.

A piece of wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is pictured on July 18, 2014 in Shaktarsk, the day after it crashed. Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, which U.S. officials believe was hit by a surface-to-air missile over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Obama spoke with Ukrainian Prime Minister Petro Poroshenko Thursday and "assured him that U.S. experts will offer all possible assistance immediately," according to the White House, which said Poroshenko "welcomed the assistance."

The White House said both men said evidence from the crash must remain in the country until international investigators can ascertain what happened to the plane, which crashed in an area of eastern Ukraine near the Russian border. Officials said 295 people were aboard.

Vice President Biden also spoke with Poroshenko to extend an offer of American assistance, and Obama talked with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak Thursday to express his condolences.

The president spoke with Secretary of State John Kerry about the plane crash and recent developments in Israel and Gaza. He was also briefed by senior members of his national security team, including CIA Director John Brennan, on the crash and efforts to support the Ukrainian government.

"The president directed his national security team to continue offering whatever assistance is necessary to advance the international effort to determine what happened," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

Obama was talking with Russian President Vladimir Putin early Thursday as reports of the crash were surfacing.

Katie Zezima covers the White House for Post Politics and The Fix.
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