Russia needs to immediately help international investigators get access to the site of the downed Malaysia Airlines jetliner, former Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson told CNBC on Friday.
"There has to be immediate access to the black boxes to the technical information, and it needs to happen really soon before somebody tries to steal some of this evidence," he said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "This is where Russia can make a difference."
Pro-Russian separatist rebels who control the eastern Ukraine area were giving conflicting reports Friday on whether any flight data recorders have been recovered.
Richardson, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, called the downing that killed all 298 people aboard the Boeing 777 an "unspeakable tragedy" but cautioned against jumping to conclusions before all the facts are in. "Who provided the missile, who shot the missile," are key areas of inquiry.
Russia has provided the rebels in eastern Ukraine with missiles, he said, but were the weapons sophisticated enough to shoot down a plane? "There has to be a very broad international coalition to investigate what happened."
Read MoreTimelineof MH17 tragedy