October 31, 2014

Sen. Fischer: increase Russian sanctions in wake of Malaysian jet crash

Sen. Deb Fischer supports increased sanctions against Russia in wake of the downing of a Malaysian commercial flight over Ukraine.

Fischer acknowledges much isn’t yet known about the doomed flight, except that it was shot down by a missile fired from territory occupied by pro-Russia separatists.

Fischer says the U.S. must go beyond sanctions and lend support to Ukraine.

“I believe our goal must be to help the Ukrainians regain control of their country and that means providing them with assistance and holding Russia accountable for its actions,” Fischer tells Nebraska reporters during a conference call.

Accident investigators have yet to arrive at the crash site. Fighting remains fierce in that area. The Netherlands has said it will take the lead in the investigation of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The flight was shot down as it traveled from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 people on board, including one America. The Netherlands lost 193 citizens.

The remains of the victims have been transferred from rebel-held ground to an area held by the Ukrainian government.

Fischer says the prospects for getting to the bottom of the crash diminished with the compromise of the crash site in a war zone.

“As you know, there was no control over that crash site. You had people in there who were basically looting. A lot of the evidence was destroyed,” Fischer says. “So, I think the crash site itself is not going to offer up much information.”

While the United States might well move to tighten economic sanctions against Russia, Europe hesitates. Europe receives a lot of its energy needs from Russia and sanctions could backfire should Russia retaliate.

Fischer suggests the U.S. prepare to provide more energy to its NATO allies so they have the freedom to stand up to Russia.

“Watching what’s happening in Europe, especially with the belligerent moves of Russia, I think that drives it home that this is a national security issue,” Fischer says. “But energy also now is a world security issue.”