State Department deletes a statement condemning Russia over MH17 downing right after Trump's Putin summit

  • The US State Department has issued a statement criticizing Russia every year since the 2014 attack on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 which killed 298 people — but not this year.
  • The silence came just one day after Trump was accused of siding with Putin over US intelligence agencies at a press conference in Helsinki.
  • Russia has long believed to be behind the attack, but this year is the first anniversary since international investigators concluded that the missile that downed the plane came from a Russian base.
  • The State Department was silent this year – and Foreign Policy reports that a draft statement criticizing Russia was never made public.

The US State Department pulled a statement that criticized Russia's involvement in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 just one day after President Donald Trump held a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin that appeared to show him siding with Russia over US intelligence agencies.

The State Department created a draft statement that was critical of Russia over the 2014 attack that killed 298 people, but it was never released, Foreign Policy reported.

A cached version of the US embassy’s website in Moscow shows that a critical statement of Russia appeared briefly on the homepage on Tuesday before being taken down, according to Foreign Policy. A US official confirmed this account to the magazine.

"Four years after the downing of MH17, the world still awaits Russia’s acknowledgment of its role," the draft statement read. 

RELATED: Malaysia MH17 crash site

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This photo taken on July 26, 2014 shows flowers, left by parents of an Australian victim of the crash, laid on a piece of the Malaysia Airlines plane MH17, near the village of Hrabove (Grabove), in the Donetsk region. Ukraine sought on July 25 to avoid a political crisis after the shock resignation of its prime minister, as fighting between the army and rebels close to the Malaysian airliner crash site claimed over a dozen more lives. Dutch and Australian forces were being readied on July 26 for possible deployment to secure the rebel-held crash site of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in east Ukraine where many victims' remains still lie nine days after the disaster claimed 298 lives. AFP PHOTO/ BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
GRABOVO, UKRAINE - JULY 22:  A woman weeps after visiting the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 22, 2014 in Grabovo, Ukraine.  Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack.  (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
GRABOVO, UKRAINE - JULY 20: Ukrainian rescue servicemen look through the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 20, 2014 in Grabovo, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows wreckages of the malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A man wearing military fatigues stands next to the wreckages of the malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine, on July 17, 2014. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Ukrainian State Emergency Service search for bodies in a field near the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabove), in Donetsk region on July 26, 2014. Ukraine sought on July 25 to avoid a political crisis after the shock resignation of its prime minister, as fighting between the army and rebels close to the Malaysian airliner crash site claimed over a dozen more lives. The Netherlands and Australia, the two countries that lost the most citizens when the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was shot down, are seeking a mandate to deploy troops on the ground, possibly through a United Nations Security Council resolution. AFP PHOTO/ BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows the wreckages of the malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. The head of Ukraine's air traffic control agency said Thursday that the crew of the Malaysia Airlines jet that crashed in the separatist east had reported no problems during flight. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo taken on July 23, 2014 shows the crash site of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, in a field near the village of Grabove, in the Donetsk region. The first bodies from flight MH17 arrived in the Netherlands on July 23 almost a week after it was shot down over Ukraine, with grieving relatives and the king and queen solemnly receiving the as yet unidentified victims. AFP PHOTO/ BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Ukrainian State Emergency Service search for bodies in a field near the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabove), in Donetsk region on July 26, 2014. Ukraine sought on July 25 to avoid a political crisis after the shock resignation of its prime minister, as fighting between the army and rebels close to the Malaysian airliner crash site claimed over a dozen more lives. The Netherlands and Australia, the two countries that lost the most citizens when the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was shot down, are seeking a mandate to deploy troops on the ground, possibly through a United Nations Security Council resolution. AFP PHOTO/ BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
A part of the fuselage of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is pictured in a field near the village of Grabove, in the Donetsk region, on July 23, 2014. The first bodies from flight MH17 arrived in the Netherlands on July 23 almost a week after it was shot down over Ukraine, with grieving relatives and the king and queen solemnly receiving the as yet unidentified victims. AFP PHOTO/ BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
A piece of wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is pictured in a field near the village of Grabove, in the region of Donetsk on July 20, 2014. The missile system used to shoot down a Malaysian airliner was handed to pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine by Moscow, the top US diplomat said Sunday. Outraged world leaders have demanded Russia's immediate cooperation in a prompt and independent probe into the shooting down on July 17 of flight MH17 with 298 people on board. AFP PHOTO/ BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
RASSIPNOYE, UKRAINE - JULY 19: Women visit the site where the cockpit of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crashed in a field of sunflowers on July 19, 2014 in Rassipnoye, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
A picture shows a piece of debris of the fuselage at the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), some 80km east of Donetsk, on July 25, 2014. Ukraine sought on July 25 to avoid a political crisis after the shock resignation of its prime minister, as fighting between the army and rebels close to the Malaysian airliner crash site claimed over a dozen more lives. The Netherlands and Australia, the two countries that lost the most citizens when the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was shot down, are seeking a mandate to deploy troops on the ground, possibly through a United Nations Security Council resolution. AFP PHOTO/ BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
Flowers and plush toys are left at the site of the crash of a Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in Grabove, in rebel-held eastern Ukraine, on July 19, 2014. Ukraine and pro-Russian insurgents agreed on July 19 to set up a security zone around the crash site of a Malaysian jet whose downing in the rebel-held east has drawn global condemnation of the Kremlin. Outraged world leaders have demanded Russia's immediate cooperation in a prompt and independent probe into the shooting down on July 17 of flight MH17 with 298 people on board. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian State Emergency Service employees collect bodies of victims at the site of the crash of a Malaysia Airlines plane in Grabove, in rebel-held east Ukraine on July 20, 2014. The missile system used to shoot down a Malaysian airliner was handed to pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine by Moscow, the top US diplomat said Sunday. Outraged world leaders have demanded Russia's immediate cooperation in a prompt and independent probe into the shooting down on July 17 of flight MH17 with 298 people on board. AFP PHOTO/ BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
A stick with a white piece of cloth makrs the spot where a body lays at the site of the crash of a Malaysian airliner carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in Grabove, in rebel-held east Ukraine, on July 18, 2014. Pro-Russian separatists in the region and officials in Kiev blamed each other for the crash, after the plane was apparently hit by a surface-to-air missile. All 298 people on board Flight MH17 died when the plane crashed. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
GRABOVKA, UKRAINE - JULY 18: A miner searches a field for debris and human remains from an Malaysia Airlines plane on July 18, 2014 in Grabovka, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed yesterday on the Ukraine/Russia border near the town of Shaktersk. The Boeing 777 was carrying 298 people including crew members, the majority of the passengers being Dutch nationals, believed to be at least 173, 44 Malaysians, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians and 9 Britons. It has been speculated that the passenger aircraft was shot down by a surface to air missile by warring factions in the region. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows the wreckages of the malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. The head of Ukraine's air traffic control agency said Thursday that the crew of the Malaysia Airlines jet that crashed in the separatist east had reported no problems during flight. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
GRABOVO, UKRAINE - JULY 20: An oxygen mask system lies in a field amongst wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 20, 2014 in Grabovo, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 18, 2014 shows the wreckages of the Malaysia Airlines jet carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur a day after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on July 17 that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. The head of Ukraine's air traffic control agency said Thursday that the crew of the Malaysia Airlines jet that crashed in the separatist east had reported no problems during flight. All 298 people on board Flight MH17 died when the plane crashed. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
RASSIPNOYE, UKRAINE - JULY 19: A man shows a piece of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 which landed in his garden on July 19, 2014 in Rassipnoye, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
An armed pro-Russia militant stands guard at the site of the crash of a Malaysian airliner carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in Grabove, in rebel-held east Ukraine, on July 18, 2014. Pro-Russian separatists in the region and officials in Kiev blamed each other for the crash, after the plane was apparently hit by a surface-to-air missile. Members of the UN Security Council demanded a full, independent investigation into the apparent shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines jet over Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian rescue workers collect bodies of victims at the site of the crash of a Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in Grabove, in rebel-held east Ukraine, on July 19, 2014. Ukraine and pro-Russian insurgents agreed on July 19 to set up a security zone around the crash site of a Malaysian jet whose downing in the rebel-held east has drawn global condemnation of the Kremlin. Outraged world leaders have demanded Russia's immediate cooperation in a prompt and independent probe into the shooting down on July 17 of flight MH17 with 298 people on board. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
GRABOVO, UKRAINE - JULY 20: A row of seats from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are lie in a field on July 20, 2014 in Grabovo, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows flames amongst the wreckages of the malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. The head of Ukraine's air traffic control agency said Thursday that the crew of the Malaysia Airlines jet that crashed in the separatist east had reported no problems during flight. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Armed pro-Russian separatists block the way to the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Grabove, in the region of Donetsk on July 20, 2014. The missile system used to shoot down a Malaysian airliner was handed to pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine by Moscow, the top US diplomat said Sunday. Outraged world leaders have demanded Russia's immediate cooperation in a prompt and independent probe into the shooting down on July 17 of flight MH17 with 298 people on board. AFP PHOTO/ BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
GRABOVO, UKRAINE - JULY 19: Blood stains the spot in a wheat field where the body of a passenger on Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 landed and was later removed on July 19, 2014 in Grabovo, Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed killing all 298 on board including 80 children. The aircraft was allegedly shot down by a missile and investigations continue over the perpetrators of the attack. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
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"It is time for Russia to cease its callous disinformation campaign and fully support the next investigative phase … and the criminal prosecution of those responsible for the downing of flight MH17."

The MH17 flight was downed in Eastern Ukraine as it traveled from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing 283 passengers and 15 crew members.

The State Department has issued a statement every year on the anniversary of the attack since it occurred in 2014. This year's anniversary was particularly significant – the first since a Dutch-led international investigation into the incident concluded that the plane was taken down by a missile from a Russian military unit based near the Ukrainian border.

Former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul described the silence as "deeply disappointing" to Foreign Policy.

"This should be very pro forma in the US government. The evidence is overwhelming. Just to be on the record on the right side of history is very prudent."

A State Department spokesman declined to comment to Foreign Policy on an allegedly leaked document. "The United States’ position on the MH17 catastrophe has not changed," he said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did sign a joint statement with G7 foreign ministers that condemned Russia's role in the incident. According to Foreign Policy, Canada and Britain's governments quickly published the statement on their foreign ministries' websites, but the US State Department did so only the news organization contacted them on Wednesday.

Russia has denied its involvement in the shoot down. 

The State Department's silence came just one day after Trump's press conference with Putin, in which he played down Russia's involvement in the 2016 election and faced a barrage of criticism for appearing to endorse a foreign power over the US's own intelligence agencies.

A father who lost three of his children on MH17 publicly slammed President Donald Trump for failing to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable for the attack earlier this month. 

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