INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – In direct response to questions about the Malaysia Airlines crash that killed nearly 300 people, U.S. Senator Dan Coats, R–Indiana, suggested Friday that the United States and other world leaders should condemn President Vladimir Putin and Russia by imposing even tougher economic sanctions that would “cripple” that nation’s economy.
“I think we need to send the message that you are not going to get away with this without a paying a real price. And that real price needs to be ratcheted up now – not later,” Coats told 24-Hour News 8, referring also to the country’s continued support for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.
Coats, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said while it’s not clear who is responsible for downing the commercial jet, “It’s a tragic situation. Whether it’s a mistake, whether or who has possession of the capacity to do this – we haven’t totally tied down yet. But we will.”
Moments later, he said: “(Russia is) sending a lot of weapons to bad guys. It’s very likely that one of these surface-to-air missiles came right out of Russia – at least the technology. Whether or not it was launched in Russia or by the separatists, the technology there was Russian-made.”
Coats was being briefed Friday on updates on the crash investigation, which still remain fluid. He also took time to remark about the death of 25-year-old Karlijn Keijzer, a Dutch-born former graduate student and rower at Indiana University who was among the 298 killed in the tragedy.
“Our hearts go out to all the nearly 300 people who lost their lives on that plane,” Coats said. “And this IU student and someone from here from Indiana being a part of that it brings it home to us – how needless this was, how reckless this was and how we have to do everything in our power to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Earlier this week, prior to the airline disaster, President Obama announced a series of economic sanctions against Russia. Coats has been highly critical of Russian President Vladmir Putin in the past. In March, the Senator co-sponsored a resolution that passed the Senate condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.
“I’m one of those seven that have been banned from doing anything in Russia – not that I want to go there. But nevertheless, we continue to believe we need to put the economic squeeze on Russia. (President) Reagan did that and we drove them to their knees,” Coats said.