Arizona Republican Senator John McCain claimed there would be “hell to pay” if Russia or its separatist allies shot down a Malaysian civilian airliner in eastern Ukraine on Thursday — though he cautioned it remains unclear who exactly is responsible.
McCain spoke with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Thursday afternoon, just moments after news broke that a Malaysian Airlines jet crashed — likely shot down — over eastern Ukraine with an estimated loss of all 295 people on board.
Early indications seem to point to the involvement of Russian separatists battling the Ukrainian government in that country’s restive east. The Ukrainian government is claiming the flight was shot down, while Russian government and media sources continue to call the incident a crash.
“I think the repercussions are incalculably huge,” McCain told Mitchell. “But remember that the Russians have already — or separatists, either Russian or separatist, and they’re really one and the same — have already shot down several aircraft of the Ukrainians . . . So this is part of a pattern.”
“But again, I am not concluding yet,” the senator cautioned. “We don’t want to make a mistake of reaching conclusions. We’ll know in the next few hours.”
“But if it is the result of either separatist or Russian actions mistakenly believing this is a Ukrainian warplane, I think there’s going to be hell to pay,” McCain declared. “And there should be.”