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How Will U.S. Respond To Malaysian Airlines Flight Disaster?

U.S. officials are weighing their options on how to move forward in the aftermath of the Malaysian Airlines flight that went down in Ukraine.
Posted at 11:32 PM, Jul 18, 2014

​President Obama and U.S. officials have been careful to not point fingers after the Malaysia Airlines crash that killed nearly 300 people Thursday. (Getty Images)

But U.S. officials did say a missile possibly fired from a separatist-controlled area of Ukraine brought the jet down, and lives wouldn’t have been lost if tensions had been cooled in the region.

Rear Admiral John Kirby: “This terrible tragedy underscores the need for Russia to take immediate and concrete steps to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine.” (Via U.S. Department of Defense)

Moreover, President Obama has made it clear what needs to happen next:

President Barack Obama: “There has to be a credible international investigation into what happened. … Russia, pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine must adhere to a ceasefire. Evidence must not be tampered with.” (Via The White House)

But what if those requests aren’t met and concrete evidence is found linking Russia and/or Ukrainian separatists to the missile that downed MH17? What are The White House’s options going forward?

Well, there obviously isn’t a shortage of opinions on the matter.

Hillary Clinton: “Europeans have to be the ones to take the lead on this.” (Via PBS / "Charlie Rose")

Sen. John McCain: If you ask the Ukrainian government that’s struggling, they would say they need weapons with which to defend themselves.” (Via MSNBC)

That last point made by Sen. John McCain seems like a strong possibility. U.S. officials have framed the MH17 crash as a part of a larger picture — helping calm the crisis in Ukraine.

To do that, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said Friday the U.S. continues to supply Ukraine’s military with non-lethal materials, like helmets, first aid kits and sleeping bags. But Ukraine has asked for lethal materials and Kirby said the U.S. is constantly reviewing and re-evaluating whether to honor those requests. (Getty Images)

What about sanctions? President Obama imposed another round of economic sanctions on Russia Wednesday. Although Russian President Vladimir Putin brushed them off … (Getty Images)

“Well, they usually backfire.” (Via RT)

CNN reports those sanctions haven’t backfired just yet. Russian markets reportedly took a tumble on the news, rattling “investor confidence” and further hurting the country’s economy.

And there’s a precedent for more sanctions: President Ronald Reagan ratcheted up sanctions on the Soviet Union in 1983 after one of their jets shot down a Korean Airlines flight, killing all 269 aboard. (Via The Washington Post)

In his speech following the attack, Reagan painted the Soviet Union as a global enemy, saying it’s the “Soviet Union against the world.” Vox reports Regan later released classified documents showing the Soviet Union was at fault. (Via Fox News, Vox)

What isn’t an option, according to President Obama, is U.S. military intervention. The president has reiterated he doesn’t see a U.S. military role beyond what’s already being done, but he continues to offer necessary “support and assistance.”