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Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, in an interview on The Charlie Rose Show, that the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was most likely shot down by pro-Russian insurgents, and asked the European Union to join the U.S. in taking a tougher stand against Moscow.
Clinton, who is widely regarded as a potential 2016 presidential candidate, spoke about who may have perpetrated the attack and how Europe could respond, on the PBS show Thursday. Flight MH17 was flying at an altitude of about 33,000 feet, on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, when it was reportedly shot down by a surface-to-air missile over eastern Ukraine, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew members aboard.
“The questions I’d be asking are; who could have shot it down, who had the equipment — it’s obviously an anti-aircraft missile. Who had the expertise to do that? Because commercial airlines are big targets, but by the time they got over that part of Ukraine they should have been high, so it takes some planning [to target such a plane],” Clinton said, on the program, according to The Guardian.
"The Ukrainian government has been quick to blame it on terrorists, which is their name for the Russian insurgents. And there does seem to be some growing awareness that it probably had to be Russian insurgents," she said, adding: "Now, how we determine that will require some forensics. But then if there is evidence pointing in that direction, the equipment had to have come from Russia. What more the Russians may or may not have done we don’t know.”
According to Associated Press, which cited an anonymous official source, American intelligence suggests that pro-Russian separatists, or Russian forces, were more likely to be responsible for the attack on the plane.
She also called on Europe to take a tougher stand over Russian territorial aggression in the region and break free of its dependence on Russia by finding alternate sources of energy. Such action, she said, would help the European Union exert greater pressure on Russia, which is heavily dependent on oil and gas revenues.
"Europeans have to be the ones to take the lead on this. It was a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over European territory. There should be outrage in European capitals."
She also called on Europe to join the U.S. in imposing tougher sanctions against Russia for fomenting unrest in Ukraine.
“I think Putin is pushing the envelope as far as he thinks he can,” Clinton told Charlie Rose. “I think he obviously has annexed and occupied Crimea. He is willing to keep Ukraine unstable in order to try and intimidate the Ukrainian government to back off from their approach to the EU, and I think the only language he understands is one that is very tough, very patient, very clear.”
The White House press office issued a statement that did not assign blame for the incident, but said: "While we do not yet have all the facts, we do know that this incident occurred in the context of a crisis in Ukraine that is fuelled by Russian support for the separatists, including through arms, materiel and training."
View an excerpt from the interview here: