Sending Western forces to secure the MH17 crash site in rebel-held Ukraine and protect investigators will be a perilous balancing act involving unpredictable separatists and Russian pride, experts said Friday.

Both countries, whose citizens accounted for three-quarters of the 298 people on board, say they are sending police to the site and seeking a legal mandate to also deploy troops.

“They want to use as few lightly equipped troops as possible to avoid provoking the Russians,” said Bronk, an analyst with the Royal United Services Institute in London.

“Bear in mind, part of the reason that this whole conflict started is over Russia’s view that the West, in the guise of both NATO and the EU, are coming ever further eastwards,” he said.

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