Obama: Downed jet may ‘stiffen’ Europe’s spine

 

President Obama on Thursday said the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight last week "may stiffen the spine of our Europeans partners moving forward” as the U.S. pushes for tougher sanctions on Russia.

In an interview on CNBC, Obama said the United States is seeing Europe "move with us" behind additional penalties on Moscow.

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Obama, though, acknowledged that many European counties are "concerned about a robust response to the violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity that Russia's been conducting."

European nations are heavily dependent on Russia, especially for energy, but the president said despite those concerns, support is coalescing for tougher sanctions.

"Not as fast as we'd like,” Obama said, adding that he believed they would “get there.”

Obama's comments come as the administration has been working furiously to build support for a tough international response to Russia following the crash last week that killed all 298 passengers on board.

U.S. officials say the jet was brought down by a missile fired from territory in eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists battling Kiev.

The president has spent recent days calling leaders overseas seeking to build pressure on those militants to allow full access to the crash site.

The U.S. is still investigating who fired the missile suspected of downing the plane, but administration officials have said the artillery came from Russia.

While the U.S. has imposed sanctions on Russia, particularly on its energy sector, administration officials say they are weighing additional measures in the days ahead.