The powerful head of the House Armed Services Committee lays the blame for the shoot down of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 firmly on Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The jetliner crashed in eastern Ukraine July 17 and is believed to have been downed by a surface-to-air missile more sophisticated than the shoulder-launched missiles that have often fallen into the hands of militants.
Speaking with VOA’s Carol Castiel on Press Conference USA, Rep. Buck McKeon, a Republican from California, said the evidence points to Russia.
“You have to go to the top, and in that case, it’s Putin,” he said. “I’m not saying he was the one who launched the missile or gave the order, but he put that in place.”
In a statement, Putin blamed Ukraine, saying, “I believe that if military operations had not resumed in eastern Ukraine on June 28, this tragedy probably could have been avoided.”
McKeon said Russia’s reaction to the incident was surprising.
“A commercial airliner was flying over an area that should be no problem, and they shoot it down and then don’t care about it.
“I think there’s real revulsion,” he said. “Everyone looks at this and says where’s the value of human life?”
He added that it was shocking to see the victims’ remains “treated like cord wood.”
“I think the world is looking at that and saying ‘this is crazy.’”
McKeon said that because the incident is still so recent, there hasn’t been any discussion about what to do, but he did offer what he said was a solution to Russia’s aggression.
The EU has been reluctant to pass strong sanctions on Russia over its role in Ukrainian unrest, in part because many countries are heavily dependent on Russia for natural gas.
“What I’d like to see us do is become energy independent and help Europe become energy independent so they’re not beholden to Russia,” McKeon said.