(CNN) – If the Malaysia airliner in Ukraine was shot down, then the United States will need to take action against the assailants, two Republican senators argued Thursday.
"If it is the case, then we're going to have to act and act in the most stringent fashions, including real sanctions, including giving the Ukrainians the ability to defend themselves, which we have not done so far," Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper.
While early speculation about the crash has focused on the possibility of the plane being shot down, it's still unclear exactly what caused the tragedy.
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McCain emphasized that he doesn't know how the plane crashed, but also argued that if the incident was caused by pro-Russian separatists, as Ukrainian officials have claimed, then the violent situation on the Ukrainian-Russian border could require heightened intervention by the U.S.
"If, if - I keep emphasizing if - it was a missile that was launched, either by Russia, or the quote separatists which in my view are indivisible, it would have the most profound repercussions," said McCain, who serves as the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
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"It would open the gates for us assisting, finally, giving the Ukrainians some defensive weapons (and) sanctions that would be imposed as a result of that. That would be the beginning."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, told CNN's Lisa Desjardins that if the plane was shot down by Russians or pro-Russian separatists, it would be a "game changer."
“If they are responsible – and I have no idea they are – you would take the sanctions we’ve unilaterally imposed, toughen them and get the world behind them," he said. "Start arming the Ukrainian military is what I would do.”
Graham also sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Meanwhile, McCain argued there would be no strategic reason for either side to intentionally bring down a passenger jet, saying it must have been a mistake, if in fact it was hit by fire.
"It's impossible for me to imagine this thing being - if it is a shoot down - nothing but a tragic mistake on their part," he said.
“I just cannot believe that no one in their right mind would want to shoot down an airliner.”
ANOTHER war McCain? We don't even know what happened and you're already issuing threats. Pathetic. Obviously if this wasn't an accident or air craft failure, whoever committed this act doesn't care about your threats. Perhaps you should consider that for a moment.
Yes because we know that people who go to war and kill eachother over imaginary lines on a map would never kill innocent people! McCain needs to put a cork in it like Hillary.
US officials will wag their fingers vigorously, while making very stern faces.
Well the President just placed more sanctions on Russia the other day. So what's the end game McLame? War with Russia? I'd rather cripple them economically.
Is John going in yet again? That goodness this buffoon was not elected president.
EMPTY heads make the MOST noise............. McCain THINK before you TALK!..
He wants to arm the people who may have done it without the facts.
What a fool.
Mcain....instead of all of your "if" scenarios, why don't we just find out what happened first instead of publically determining retaliation "if" this or that happened....Glad he didn't get elected...it would be one new war after another.....
Somebody ought to remind Mccain that he lost.
And somebody ought to tell him that it is customary to fined out what happened before committing to a course of action.
Sheesh, what a numbskull.
America threats; nothing but a joker; this McCain; and Obama administration
Mr. McCain, its not our circus and they are not our monkeys. Let the involved countries in that part of the world deal with it. President Obama's sanctions, in cooperation with the EU, are having their effect, which is why we elected him and not you.
No one wants war but it may be better than sitting around looking stupid as the world starts to discount America.
Obama will scratch his testicles and wonder what happened.
At least McCain will do something.
Obama will just sit back and get his information from the local news.
McCain thinks we are the world police .
I am a relatively conservative person and I absolutely deplore when McCain opens his mouth. He and Cheney should retire from commenting.
"If it is the case, then we're going to have to act and act in the most stringent fashions, including real sanctions, including giving the Ukrainians the ability to defend themselves, which we have not done so far"
I fail to see how the plane being shot down, even if by the Russians, would have any bearing whatsoever on arming the Ukrainians. Not saying we should or shouldn't...just that McCain's is displaying the rationale of a senile man again.
John McCain will take any opportunity of any tragedy to get press time.
You are not in the State Department, Johnny, so why should we care what you think?
I am sure Obama will put out another red line........
It's President Obama's fault! lol
Russia shoots down a Malaysian commercial jet. Let's arm the Ukrainians with some really bad hardware ?
Bin Laden attacked America on 9-11-01. Let's invade & try to occupy Iraq ?
McCain needs to stop trying to get the U.S. into a war, every time something happens around the world.
Yes, the Russian Army probably shot down this plane........and they will have to answer for that, to any number of countries.........however, Malaysian Airlines also is responsible, for ignoring the FAA warnings to re-route airliners away from the Eastern Ukraine.
With 2 major problems regarding their aircraft, in a short period of time, which make no sense, at all.........passengers need to really consider whether it is safe to travel on Malaysian Airlines.
OK but what if it turns out that the Ukrainian army accidentally shot down this plane, then what?
Really? Why do you throw Hillary into the mix–woman hater
Why does the US always have to "take action?" Let Malaysia take action.