Politics

Ukrainian President: Malaysia Airlines Crash Is No Different Than 9/11

Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
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Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
July 21, 2014, 7:41 a.m.

The Ukrain­i­an pres­id­ent says he sees no dif­fer­ence between the down­ing of a ci­vil­ian jet­liner over Ukraine last week and the Sept. 11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks, call­ing the pro-Rus­si­an sep­ar­at­ists he be­lieves to be re­spons­ible for the crash “ter­ror­ists.”

“I don’t see any dif­fer­ences from the tragedy 9/11, from the tragedy of Lock­er­bie and from the tragedy of Grabovo on Ukrain­i­an sky,” Petro Poroshen­ko told Chris­ti­ane Aman­pour in an in­ter­view on CNN on Monday.

Poroshen­ko also com­pared the crash of Malay­sia Air­lines Flight 17, which killed all 298 people on board, to a 1988 plane bomb­ing in Scot­land that killed 259 people on the plane and 11 people on the ground.

By draw­ing a link between last week’s plane crash and 9/11, the Ukrain­i­an pres­id­ent is not try­ing to com­pare spe­cif­ic parts of the two tra­gedies, such as the num­ber of cas­u­al­ties, the parties re­spons­ible or the dam­age, in dol­lars and psy­cho­lo­gic­al costs, they led to. Rather, Poroshen­ko is at­tempt­ing to ap­peal to the Amer­ic­an gov­ern­ment and pub­lic for sup­port in Ukraine’s stan­doff with Rus­sia. The 9/11 at­tacks drew wide­spread in­ter­na­tion­al sup­port to a coun­try rattled by an un­speak­able cata­strophe. Ac­cord­ing to Poroshen­ko, the Malay­si­an Air­lines plane crash, as well as the grow­ing con­flict in east­ern Ukraine, should rally the same kind of sup­port.

“We should demon­strate a strong solid­ar­ity and to ar­range the pres­sure for all of those who sup­port the ter­ror­ists who pre­vent the in­de­pend­ent in­vest­ig­a­tion,” Poroshen­ko said in the in­ter­view. Poroshen­ko called the down­ing of the jet­liner an “in­ter­na­tion­al crime,” and said the in­cid­ent poses a threat to glob­al se­cur­ity.

Poroshen­ko’s re­marks are part of a months-long Ukrain­i­an pub­lic-re­la­tions push to rally U.S. sup­port, be it mil­it­ary as­sist­ance or sanc­tions. Last week, Pres­id­ent Obama an­nounced new sanc­tions against sev­er­al Rus­si­an banks and en­ergy and de­fense com­pan­ies. If the latest pun­it­ive meas­ures don’t per­suade Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin to re­move his in­flu­ence in east­ern Ukraine, Poroshen­ko says the U.S. will need to im­pose high­er costs.

“If sanc­tions will help [the situ­ation],” we should in­tro­duce new sanc­tion,” Poroshen­ko told Aman­pour. “If it’s not work­ing, we should maybe ask the United States Con­gress … to help us solve the se­cur­ity prob­lem.”

Some mem­bers of Con­gress have called for more strin­gent in­junc­tions against Rus­sia, in­clud­ing im­pos­ing sanc­tions against spe­cif­ic sec­tors of the Rus­si­an eco­nomy, such as en­ergy, or provid­ing arms and weapons to the Ukrain­i­an mil­it­ary. For now, the U.S. is send­ing in­vest­ig­at­ors from the FBI and the Na­tion­al Trans­port­a­tion Safety Board to the plane crash site to aid in an in­ter­na­tion­al in­vest­ig­a­tion.

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