President Barack Obama called the shooting down of a passenger plane in Ukraine an “outrage of unspeakable proportions” and a “global tragedy,” one day after the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down, killing all 298 people on board.
“This outrageous event underscores it’s time for peace and security to be restored in Ukraine,” Obama said.
“This is a wake-up call for Europe and the world that there are consequences to an escalating conflict in the eastern Ukraine.”
Obama said that at least one American was among those killed in the crash. He later identified the man as Quinn Lucas Schansman, a dual Dutch-U.S. citizen.
In his statement, Obama repeated what U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha had said earlier Friday morning at an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting. The U.S. believes the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile that was fired from pro-Russian separatist-held territory in eastern Ukraine. He said it is still “too early” for the U.S. to guess the perpetrators’ intentions and whether they explicitly targeted a civilian aircraft.
“Evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile that was launched from an area that is controlled by Russian-backed separatists inside of Ukraine,” Obama said. “Moreover, we know that these separatists have received a steady flow of support from Russia. This includes arms and training. It includes heavy weapons.”
Obama hinted at the possibility of imposing more sanctions on Russia, but he said he doesn’t see a role for the U.S. military in the conflict “beyond what we’ve already been doing.” When asked if he blames Russian President Vladimir Putin, Obama said he didn’t want to get “ahead of the facts.” But he said it was clear that the pro-Russian separatists are well-armed and well-trained, and “we know that that’s not an accident.” It’s happening, he said, because of Russian support.
In a late-night statement on Thursday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the shooting down of the plane happened in the “context” of Russia fueling support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern regions of Ukraine. And Friday morning, Power said Russia “must end this war.”
Power said Friday that if pro-Russian separatists are responsible for shooting down the plane, the U.S. could not rule out that Russian personnel offered technical assistance.
“The eyes of the world are on Ukraine,” Obama said Friday. “We’re going to make sure the truth gets out. … We don’t have time for propaganda. We don’t have time for games.”
This post has been updated.
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