Blumenthal: Putin responsible for ‘air terrorist tragedy’

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Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to personally take responsibility for his role in the downed jetliner.

“Clear and compelling evidence points to Putin and as effectively the pernicious perpetrator of this horrific air terrorist tragedy. He armed, encouraged and incited his Russian so-called rebel agents in Ukraine,” Blumenthal said Sunday. “Putin and those responsible for this atrocity must be held accountable.”

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U.S. lawmakers have demanded that Putin Putin to acknowledge his government's purported role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have been accused of shooting down the jetliner that was carrying nearly 300 people.

Blumenthal said Putin should apologize and compensate the victims’ families.

“President Putin must be compelled to pay and apologize — pay the victims' families through a compensation fund, and apologize to them and the world for Russia's role in this horrific act of terrorism.”

Before the plane was shot down, President Obama announced that the U.S. would increase economic pressure on Russia through sanctions on energy and financial sectors in an effort to stop Putin’s meddling in Ukraine.

Blumenthal said that in the aftermath of the “horrific tragedy” European allies should join the U.S. in increasing sanctions against Russia.

“The administration should be aggressively rallying European allies — sending emissaries to every capital — to join in energy and financial sanctions. Only joint sanctions involving the Europeans will hit the Russians where they live,” Blumenthal said. “The world community must take this horrific tragedy and a rallying cry for action — Putin's Lockerbie — and join to impose accountability.”