Republicans outline penalties if separatists involved in crash

 

Republicans laid out possible punishments for Russia if pro-Russian separatists are found to be responsible for downing a Malaysia Airlines plane in Ukraine on Thursday. 

They called for increased "Iranian-type" sanctions on Russia, as well as providing weapons to Ukrainian forces to defend themselves and restricting Russian planes from landing in the United States or Europe.

The commercial airliner carrying nearly 300 people was apparently shot down by a surface-to-air missile near the Ukraine-Russia border.

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There is no confirmation of who is responsible, but Ukrainian officials have blamed pro-Russian separatists who have taken over some areas of eastern Ukraine.  

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said there is already compelling evidence that pro-Russian separatists were involved, potentially mistaking the commercial airliner for a Ukrainian military plane. He outlined a number of steps the United States should take if that proves true. 

"So first, give the Ukrainians weapons to defend themselves and regain their territory," McCain said on Fox News. "Second of all, move some of our troops into areas that are being threatened by Vladimir Putin, other countries like the Baltics and others.”

"Move missile defense into the places where we got out of, like the Czech Republic and Poland and other places," he added. "And impose the harshest possible sanctions on Vladimir Putin and Russia. That's just for openers."

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), concluding the missile came from "Russia, or it was from the separatists," said the United States should impose sanctions on Russia similar to those on Iran.

"I think that this is a crime. This is beyond a crime,” she said. “This is an act of terrorism, and that needs to be held to accountability.” 

She added: "There are much tougher sanctions we can issue. More support for Ukrainian military but also the Europeans because they have not followed suit and they should have a wake-up call as well."

On Wednesday, before the crash, the United States imposed its harshest sanctions yet on Russia for its actions in Ukraine. They included sanctions on banks, energy companies and defense firms in the country. 

Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) said, if Russia even indirectly had a hand in the crash, it is certainly an "act of criminal negligence, and Russia would have to bear responsibility."

If true, he said the United States and European leaders should prevent Russian planes from landing in their countries, as well as imposing embargoes on Russia.  

"We should start doing whatever we can do economically and get Western allies to show some guts and go along with us, and we have to become energy independent," he said.

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