A Willmar, Minnesota, man says his brother was among those who perished aboard Malaysian Air Flight 17 last week.
The United States has presented what it called "powerful" evidence that the rebels shot down the plane with a Russian surface-to-air missile. Other governments have stopped short of accusing Russia of actually causing the crash.
Drew Ryder said his brother Arjen, and sister-in-law Yvonne, were returning from a vacation in the Netherlands to the family's home in western Australia when the jet went down. Ryder said his parents were Dutch immigrants to Australia and the family still had close ties to Europe.
It's hard to comprehend how passing air travelers could be drawn into the Ukraine conflict, Ryder said.
"It was a criminal act, essentially, and what's going on in the Urkraine and this whole land grab or whatever you want to call it ultimately comes back to people's need to own and control and have things. And we like to believe that ultimately life shouldn't be about having control, and perpetrating a crime -- obviously -- on others," he aid.
His family's strong Dutch Reform faith was helping them cope with the tragedy.
"I don't want these people's lives -- not just my brother and sister-in-law, but all the people that died on that plane -- I don't want their lives to have been lost for the wrong reasons," he said. "If there's one thing that could make good out of this, it would be that we could change the hearts and minds of the perpetrators. If there is some way that this leads to some level of reconciliation and peace in that area, then all their lives would not have been lost in vain."
Arjen and Yvonne Ryder left three children and five grandchildren behind when the plane went down July 17.
Recovery operation stumbles
The chaotic Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 recovery effort stumbled again Monday, with more bodies found at the sprawling crash site but a worrisome power outage in the refrigerated train holding over 200 of the dead.
The shambolic attempts to investigate by the pro-Russia separatists who control the verdant farmland where pieces of the plane crashed to Earth have fanned widespread international outrage, especially from the nations whose citizens were on the doomed plane. Four days after the jetliner was shot out of the sky, international investigators still had only limited access to the crash site in eastern Ukraine.
Emergency workers piled 21 more black body bags from the blackened crash site by the side of the road Monday in Hrabove. That brought the total found to 272 of the 298 passengers and crew killed in the tragedy, according Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
The bodies were being sent to the refrigerated railcars in the nearby town of Torez, where the other bodies are being kept. But a train engineer told The Associated Press that the cars' refrigeration had been off overnight and it was not immediately clear why. The cooling system was back up and running early Monday, he said.
The smell of decomposing bodies was much more pronounced Monday at the Torez train station than a day earlier, when 196 bodies were put into the train cars. Four rebels armed with automatic weapons were standing guard around the cars.
It is no longer only grief and mourning sweeping across the Netherlands in the aftermath of the downing of Flight 17. It is now anger.
The Dutch have widely condemned the way the bodies of loved ones have been treated in Ukraine and the fact they have not yet been returned home four days after Thursday's tragedy.
"No words can describe it," said Silene Fredriksz-Hoogzand, whose son Bryce and his girlfriend Daisy Oehlers died on their way to a vacation in Bali. "Bodies are just lying there for three days in the hot sun. There are people who have this on their conscience. There are families who can never hold the body of a child or a mother."
Fredriksz-Hoogzand was among scores of victims' relatives expected at a behind-closed-doors meeting Monday near the central city of Utrecht, where they were to be consoled by King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
Pressure has been growing on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who the U.S. and others say has backed and armed the rebels, to rein in the insurgents in Ukraine and allow a full-scale investigation. Russia has denied backing the separatists.
Putin lashed out against those criticisms again Monday, accusing others of exploiting the downing of the plane for "mercenary objectives."
Putin said Russia was doing everything possible to allow a team of experts from the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency, to investigate the scene. He again criticized the Ukraine government authorities in Kiev for reigniting the fighting with the pro-Russia rebels who control the crash site.
"We can say with confidence that if fighting in eastern Ukraine had not been renewed on June 28, this tragedy would not have happened," Putin said. "Nobody should or does have a right to use this tragedy for such mercenary objectives."
Yatsenyuk, Ukraine's prime minister, angrily called on Russia to halt what he said was its support for the rebels.
"They have to stop, and President Putin has to realize, enough is enough," he said. "What we expect from Russia: To de-escalate the situation, to withdraw their agents, to close the border, to stop their support for these bastards, and to stick to international law and international observations."
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)