Obama addresses the crashed Malaysian Airliner.
If the world hadn’t been paying close attention to the conflict on the eastern border of Ukraine, the downing of the Malaysian airliner there on Thursday made it everybody’s business.
The nearly 300 people who died as the plane was shot down en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur came from across the globe. The passengers included children and their parents, friends visiting friends, families going on vacation, students and notable researchers headed to an HIV/AIDS conference in Australia.
As it became clear that the commercial airplane had been “blown out of the sky,” as Vice President Joe Biden put it, reactions ranged from grief to rage, with some of the fiercest rhetoric coming from American officials.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked about a "growing awareness that it probably had to be Russian insurgents" in a television interview, saying that if Russia is connected to the destruction of the passenger plane, "there should be outrage in European capitals," and the EU should "put Putin on notice that he has gone too far.”
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) said that perpetrators should be held accountable. “Whoever did it should pay a full price,” he said, according to the Daily Beast. “If it’s by a country, either directly or indirectly, then it could be considered an act of war.”
And in a widely-quoted interview, Sen. John McCain said that there will be “hell to pay,” if it turns out that the downing was a result of actions by pro-Russian rebels’ or Russian actions.
In the past, Ukraine’s government has blamed Moscow for arming the separatist rebels and allowing for militants and weapons to cross the border into Ukraine, allegations denied by the Kremlin, despite photo and video evidence from NATO.
So far, there has been no conclusive evidence proving who fired the surface-to-air missile that brought down the plane. But late Thursday, the White House issued a pointed statement, offering help with any investigation.
“While we do not yet have all the facts, we do know that this incident occurred in the context of a crisis in Ukraine that is fueled by Russian support for the separatists, including through arms, materiel, and training. This incident only highlights the urgency with which we continue to urge Russia to immediately take concrete steps to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine and to support a sustainable cease-fire and path toward peace that the Ukrainian government has consistently put forward.”
Earlier in the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin had laid the blame on Ukraine. "This tragedy would not have happened, if there were peace on this land," he reportedly said. Putin had spoken earlier to President Obama by phone.
More than thirty years ago, the downing of a Korean Air Lines flight en route from New York to Seoul by a Russian pilot created one of the worst crisis of the Cold War. The Boeing 747 carried 269 passengers who all died.
Now, the investigation of what happened to the Malaysian Airliner similarly will take place against a backdrop of distrust and suspicion.
The U.N. Security Council will meet on Friday to discuss the situation.
Tags: MALAYSIA AIRLINES, MH17, POLITICIANS, U.S., UKRAINE PLANE CRASH, US & World, US POLITICS