By Mario Trujillo - 07/17/14 06:41 PM EDT
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukraine ultimately bears responsibility for the Malaysia Airlines jetliner apparently shot down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday.
Giving condolences to the families of the victims, the Russian president said the tragedy likely would not have happened if there were peace in Ukraine.
Putin called the event a "terrible tragedy" and said it was unacceptable. He gave instructions to the government to investigate the event.
The Malaysian airliner carrying nearly 300 people was apparently shot down over the eastern part of Ukraine, according to Vice President Biden. U.S. officials have made similar statements to other news outlets, explaining it was likely hit by a surface-to-air missile.
Ukrainian officials blamed Russian separatists who have taken over parts of eastern Ukraine for the incident.
Only a day before, the Obama administration issued a number of sanctions on Russian banks, energy companies and defense firms for what officials described as Russia's continued violation of Ukraine's territorial integrity in support of the separatists.
A number of U.S. lawmakers have said the tragedy raises concerns about Russia's involvement and noted separatists have shot down more than “a dozen planes [and] helicopters in Ukraine over the past few months," according to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
Earlier in the day, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the incident had the markings of someone mistaking the commercial airliner for a Ukrainian military plane. He noted if Russian separatists were involved, there would be "hell to pay," while emphasizing people should not yet jump to conclusions.