McCain: Putin 'responsible' if pro-Russian separatists shot down plane in Ukraine
July 18th, 2014
12:43 AM ET
5 months ago

McCain: Putin 'responsible' if pro-Russian separatists shot down plane in Ukraine

CNN and National Journal joined forces Thursday to explore the 2014 midterm elections at the first "Politics on Tap" event in Washington D.C. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, joined CNN’s Jake Tapper, Brianna Keilar and Peter Hamby, as well as National Journal’s Ron Fournier, and Michelle Cottle for the private gathering. Check out some of the best highlights from the event on our Storify page.

(CNN) - If the Russians did it, it's their President's fault.

That was the message Sen. John McCain delivered after the United States concluded a missile shot down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet that crashed in a rebel-controlled part of eastern Ukraine on Thursday.

While it is unclear who shot down the plane, the Arizona Republican says that if either the Russian government or pro-separatist forces in Ukraine fired the missile, Russian President Vladimir Putin is ultimately responsible for the crash.


"I think he is responsible," McCain told CNN's Jake Tapper and National Journal's Ron Fournier at a "Politics on Tap" event in Washington. "I mean it wasn't Vladimir Putin that pushed the button to launch the missile, but the whole scenario, including the buildup of Russian troops across the border ... I think that he gave them material and the wherewithal to do it - or facilitated that - and facilitated a situation that was very possible for them to do it."

Putin said Ukraine's military campaign against the separatists was to blame, while Ukrainian officials maintained that pro-Russian separatists were behind the crash.

"This tragedy would not have happened, if there had been peace on that land, or in any case, if military operations in southeastern Ukraine had not been renewed," Putin said in televised remarks. "And without a doubt the government of the territory on which it happened bears responsibility for this frightening tragedy."

But McCain asserted that the actions of pro-Russian separatist forces in Ukraine have been coordinated by the Russians, and Putin should be punished for their actions if they are found to be involved.

"I think first of all we would want to impose the most severe kinds of sanctions on Russia because this is clearly orchestrated, this whole separatist movement," McCain said. "I see no separation between Vladimir Putin and what he has fomented in Eastern Ukraine, and the invasion where he took Crimea and these 'separatists.'"

The Obama administration believes Ukraine did not have the capability in the region - let alone the motivation - to shoot down the plane, a U.S. official told Tapper.

The Boeing 777 with 298 people aboard fell from the sky near the town of Torez in the Donetsk.
If it is determined that American lives were lost in the crash caused by a missile launched by Russians or pro-Russian separatists, McCain said the Russian government would be to blame for their lost lives.

"I would say the Russian government bears responsibility for the deaths of Americans," McCain said.


Filed under: John McCain • Russia • Vladimir Putin
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Bill from GA

    Rudy NYC – " What was your opinion on Iraq a decade ago? "

    I felt Iraq was mostly doing the world a service by keeping Iran in line. The balance of power between the two helped stabilize the region.

    Not a perfect situation, but it is not the duty of the USA to make the world perfect. Beside, we aren't so good at it.

    Further, our country should have an extremely high standard for launching a full-scale invasion of another country.

    July 18, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. Bill from GA

    to Rudy NYC

    Also, there was NO Al-Qaeda in Iraq, or most of the rest of the mid-east, until the W-cheney invasion made the country safe for Al-Qaeda. Thanks, W!

    July 18, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Tony D

    Dominican mama 4 Obama
    This is what you get when you match a clueless community organizer against the former head of the KGB
    -----–– are you nuts?
    -

    Nope, just stating FACTS. Obama is way over his head and out matched by Putin. To deny that is to be delusional, which you obviously are. They usually happens to cult followers such as yourself.
    ==============================================================
    You want match up Putin with whom?

    McCain? He's war monger central. I like my apples crisp, not my planet. Besides, he had Palin(?) for backup. There's far too many right wing Bible thumpers to mention, but I don't to be led into a Christian Holy War: i.e.; Huckabee; Santorum. Who else you got that's left? Not anything that's worth mentioning.

    July 18, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Bill from GA

    Rudy NYC – " What was your opinion on Iraq a decade ago? "

    I felt Iraq was mostly doing the world a service by keeping Iran in line. The balance of power between the two helped stabilize the region.

    Not a perfect situation, but it is not the duty of the USA to make the world perfect. Beside, we aren't so good at it.

    Further, our country should have an extremely high standard for launching a full-scale invasion of another country.
    =================================================================================
    You forgot to say that you were against the Iraq War when we invaded. We did have a high standard. We had been attacked by terrorists. The administration had intelligence that Saddam was hiding WMDs and was working with Osama Bin Laden, in preparation for another attack against the American mainland. All of your preconditions were met.

    July 18, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  5. Tony D

    Rudy NYC
    Tony D
    Dominican mama 4 Obama
    This is what you get when you match a clueless community organizer against the former head of the KGB
    -––– are you nuts?

    Nope, just stating FACTS. Obama is way over his head and out matched by Putin. To deny that is to be delusional, which you obviously are. They usually happens to cult followers such as yourself.
    ==============================================================
    You want match up Putin with whom?
    ---

    Sorry, we're stuck with the community organizer unless you agree he should resign then we'd be stuck with Crazy Joe. Let's face it, we're screwed. Thanks Democrats.

    July 18, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    Tony D

    Rudy NYC
    Tony D
    Dominican mama 4 Obama
    This is what you get when you match a clueless community organizer against the former head of the KGB
    -––– are you nuts?

    Nope, just stating FACTS. Obama is way over his head and out matched by Putin. To deny that is to be delusional, which you obviously are. They usually happens to cult followers such as yourself.
    ==============================================================
    You want match up Putin with whom?
    -

    Sorry, we're stuck with the community organizer unless you agree he should resign then we'd be stuck with Crazy Joe. Let's face it, we're screwed. Thanks Democrats.
    ======================================================================
    I see.
    Do you know that you're saying that there is no one on the right that could match up to Putin? Stick with Democrats.

    July 18, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  7. Bill from GA

    Rudy NYC – " You forgot to say that you were against the Iraq War when we invaded. ... All of your preconditions were met."

    Rudy, Sarah Palin could read my comment and tell I was against the invasion. I think you're hitting the bottle a little early these days.

    The UN inspectors looking for weapons said there were none. Only dick cheney said Saddam was working with Osama Bin Laden; everyone else knew they were rivals, if anything. For all the intelligence w-cheney used to justify the war, there was as much against it.

    i don't think McCain, or any other candidate, except w-cheney would have thought to invade Iraq based on the evidence of the day. But we had too many followers, and too few leaders, to stop them. And one of those FOLLOWERS is considered to be a prime candidate for the Presidency in 2016.

    July 18, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Bill from GA

    Rudy NYC – " You forgot to say that you were against the Iraq War when we invaded. ... All of your preconditions were met."

    Rudy, Sarah Palin could read my comment and tell I was against the invasion. I think you're hitting the bottle a little early these days.
    ----------------------------
    Your comments were on the fence, Bill. "We need high standards." Those standards had seemed to have been more than met. Excuse me for pointing that out to you. Your comments sounded more retrospective and introspective. They still do.

    July 18, 2014 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    CORRECTION
    Your comments sounded more retrospective and introspective.

    Your comments sounded more retrospective THAN introspective.

    July 18, 2014 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
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