A Malaysia Airlines jet carrying nearly 300 people crashed near the border between Russia and Ukraine, according to Reuters and Interfax. The airline company has confirmed that it has lost contact with the plane, a Boeing 777.
Seeking to intensify pressure on Russia, President Barack Obama on Thursday expanded U.S. economic sanctions against Moscow, targeting 20 individuals inside and outside the government, as well as a Russian bank that provides them support.
In the most comprehensive sanctions against Russia since the end of the Cold War, President Barack Obama on Monday froze the U.S. assets of seven Russian officials, including top advisers to President Vladimir Putin, for their support of Crimea's vote to secede from Ukraine.
Just two weeks after Russian troops seized their peninsula, Crimeans voted Sunday to leave Ukraine and join Russia, overwhelmingly approving a referendum that sought to unite the strategically important Black Sea region with the country it was part of for some 250 years.
One by one, President Barack Obama's warnings to Russia are being brushed aside by President Vladimir Putin, who appears to be speeding up efforts to formally stake his claim to Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.