Russia-Ukraine dispute

Tensions have been high between Ukraine and Russia since street protests forced former pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych from power in February. Russia subsequently annexed Ukraine's southeastern Crimea region, and a pro-Russian separatist rebellion has been raging in Ukraine's eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

Ukraine's government has accused Russia of allowing weapons and military equipment, including tanks, to cross the border illegally into the hands of pro-Russian rebels.

While Ukrainian officials implicated pro-Russian fighters and their Russian backers for the jetliner's downing, Moscow argued Ukraine was to blame.

"With regard to the claims raised by Kiev, that it was almost us who did it: In fact I haven't heard any truthful statements from Kiev over the past few months," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an exclusive interview with the state-run Russia 24 TV channel.

European Union leaders agreed this week to expand sanctions against individuals and entities in response to Russia's actions in Ukraine, with details to be decided by the end of the month. Expanded U.S. sanctions were also announced in Washington.

Airspace closed

The Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure announced Friday that the airspace over Donetsk, Luhansk and part of Kharkiv where rebels are operating had been closed indefinitely.

Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai defended the routing of the Malaysia Airlines plane over the region, saying other carriers were sending their aircraft through the same airspace.

Three months ago, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration prohibited U.S. airlines from flying in areas some way south of where Flight 17 crashed Thursday. Thursday night, the FAA expanded the flight restrictions to all of eastern Ukraine.

Airline's troubles

Thursday's crash marks the second time this year that Malaysia Airlines has faced an incident involving a downed plane.

In March, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared with 239 people on board. Searchers have found no trace of the Boeing 777 or its passengers despite extensive search efforts.

Flight 370 probably flew into the southern Indian Ocean on autopilot with an unresponsive crew, Australian authorities said last month. A new underwater search is expected to begin in August.