Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) on Friday called on President Barack Obama to hold Russia accountable for the downing of a passenger jet in eastern Ukraine.
King, a member of the Homeland Security Committee and chairman of the Sub-Committee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, said in a CNN interview that Obama "has to step up today" and confront Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"One way or another, to me the blame is largely on Putin," and the United States must "hold him accountable," King said. "It's almost criminal negligence . . . to give this type of weaponry to separatists."
At a news conference Friday, Obama said evidence so far indicates that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile from an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists, The Associated Press reported. He noted it wasn't the first time the separatists had shot down planes in the region, adding that a "steady flow of support from Russia" had included heavy weapons and anti-aircraft weapons.
He called for an immediate cease-fire to allow for a full investigation, AP reported.
"This was a global tragedy," Obama said. "An Asian airliner was destroyed in European skies filled with citizens from many countries, so there has to be a credible international investigation into what happened."
King said the president should "put real economic sanctions in place" and get European nations involved.
He added that the United States should consider grounding Aeroflot flights. Aeroflot is Russia's state-controlled airline.
A day before the plane was shot down, the Obama administration announced new sanctions against Russia, targeting banks, energy companies and the Russian defense industry.