* Putin wants access for experts at crash site
* Says crash should not be used for political ends
(Adds Putin quotes, background)
MOSCOW, July 21 Russian President Vladimir Putin
said on Monday the downing of a Malaysian airliner in east
Ukraine must not be used for political ends and urged
separatists to allow international experts access to the crash
"Everything must be done to guarantee the security of
international experts at the site of the tragedy," Putin,
wearing a dark suit and tie, said in an unusual televised
address standing alone by a desk in an office.
Putin, who looked drawn, reiterated his belief that the
incident would not have happened if Ukrainian government forces
had not ended a truce and resumed a military campaign against
the pro-Russian rebellion in eastern Ukraine.
"However, nobody should - and no one has the right to - use
this tragedy to achieve selfish political ends. Such events
should not divide people but unite them," he said.
Putin's comments, following a flurry of telephone diplomacy,
appeared aimed at countering criticism by Western leaders who
accused him of doing little to persuade separatists whom they
believe shot down the airliner to stop fighting.
Putin defended his role in the crisis and reiterated calls
for an end to hostilities in eastern Ukraine.
"We have more than once called on all sides in the conflict
to immediately stop the bloodshed and begin negotiations," he
He called for a "humanitarian corridor" to allow experts
access to the site where the airliner was brought down, killing
all 298 people on board, in rebel-controlled territory but
stopped short of issuing a public appeal to the separatists.
U.S. and European leaders, who have imposed sanctions on
Moscow over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and its
role in the east, say weapons and fighters flowing across
Russia's border into Ukraine are fuelling the violence.
Criticism of Russia's role has turned to anger in Western
capitals over gruesome accounts of bodies and evidence being
manhandled by fighters and residents.
Despite calls for an end to fighting, clashes broke on
Monday out in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk near a railway
station, with artillery fire sending plumes of smoke skywards in
what separatists said was an attempt by government forces to
enter the city they seized in April.
(Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel Editing by Timothy Heritage)