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CNN "The Lead with Jake Tapper" - Transcript: Ukraine


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TAPPER: Let's bring in Congressman Peter King. He's a member of the Homeland Security Committee and a chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. He's a Republican from New York State.

Congressman King, this information comes directly from the Ukrainian government. Obviously, they have been fighting these rebels. Obviously, they are against what they allege Russia is doing in supporting these rebels. How much stock do you put in this intelligence?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: I would put a lot into it, even standing by itself. But when you combine it with everything else we know, as Barbara Starr laid out, to me there's a very convincing case here, compelling case that these -- that this is Russian weaponry. There's no other place it could have come from except for Russia.

And there's no way that these separatists would have been able to operate this equipment either without a tremendous amount of training from the Russians or even having a Russian special operator there with them. So Russia has to be ultimately responsible at the very least for criminal negligence, and in the world of international politics and diplomacy, they have to bear responsibility. Transferring weapons of this magnitude to a rebel group, you have

to be responsible for the consequences. I'm not aware of this happening before, any weapons of this type being given by a major power to a splinter group or a secessionist or insurrectionist group.

TAPPER: So, does Putin have blood on his hands with this plane crash?

KING: Putin is responsible. If you want to use the expression blood on his hands, I would say yes. As a world leader, he has to know that when he transfers weaponry of this sophistication, which is so lethal, he has to be responsible for the consequences for that.

An American died. So I would blame Putin for that. And I would also put responsibility on him for all of the others. He's the one who made the decision. If he had not transferred this equipment, it wouldn't have happened. And if he hadn't ordered the training of these secessionists to operate the equipment, it couldn't have happened. So, yes, in the world stage, he's responsible.

TAPPER: So, Congressman, what should the consequences be? What would you advise President Obama to do?

KING: I was critical of President Obama yesterday for not being more assertive. I thought he was very effective today.

I thought Ambassador Samantha Power was extremely effective at the United Nations. And Americans have to come together behind the president on this. I think though we need very strong economic sanctions, stronger than we have had. And I have urged actually that we consider having sanctions on Aeroflot, the Russian-owned airline, the government-owned airline, and deny them access to our airports, and not just the U.S.

We get our Western allies to go along with that, because that would have a real economic impact and also tremendous symbolic impact. Putin is going to have to acknowledge that he is responsible for this. He's going to have to not only just make amends for it, but he has to I believe show that he's withdrawing all of this type of equipment from Eastern Ukraine and to have it back into Russia.

TAPPER: Congressman, what can you tell us about the investigation into what precisely happened here?

KING: It's going to be difficult. We're talking about a crime scene. It's a crime scene that's spread over 10 miles. It's already been contaminated. And we don't know the where the black box is.

Every piece of evidence is vital, and yet -- so I would say it's important for the OSCE to get in there, the OSCE to go in and for Russia to guarantee that they have safe passage in and out. Otherwise, the blood that Putin has on his hands is only going to be magnified. We can't go back to the old days of Stalin and Brezhnev and Khrushchev, where something like this is covered up.

We live in a very international world today. And we depend on commerce. We depend upon certain ground rules being observed. And one of them is that you don't shoot down passenger airliners. And if a major power is involved in that, they have a real responsibility and Putin has to now try to undo some of the harm he's done by guaranteeing safe passage and access to an international investigation team going in there, right now, I would say initially by OSCE.

TAPPER: All right, Congressman Peter King of New York, thank you so much.


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