The Ukrainian president says he sees no difference between the downing of a civilian jetliner over Ukraine last week and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, calling the pro-Russian separatists he believes to be responsible for the crash “terrorists.”
“I don’t see any differences from the tragedy 9/11, from the tragedy of Lockerbie and from the tragedy of Grabovo on Ukrainian sky,” Petro Poroshenko told Christiane Amanpour in an interview on CNN on Monday.
Poroshenko also compared the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which killed all 298 people on board, to a 1988 plane bombing in Scotland that killed 259 people on the plane and 11 people on the ground.
By drawing a link between last week’s plane crash and 9/11, the Ukrainian president is not trying to compare specific parts of the two tragedies, such as the number of casualties, the parties responsible or the damage, in dollars and psychological costs, they led to. Rather, Poroshenko is attempting to appeal to the American government and public for support in Ukraine’s standoff with Russia. The 9/11 attacks drew widespread international support to a country rattled by an unspeakable catastrophe. According to Poroshenko, the Malaysian Airlines plane crash, as well as the growing conflict in eastern Ukraine, should rally the same kind of support.
“We should demonstrate a strong solidarity and to arrange the pressure for all of those who support the terrorists who prevent the independent investigation,” Poroshenko said in the interview. Poroshenko called the downing of the jetliner an “international crime,” and said the incident poses a threat to global security.
Poroshenko’s remarks are part of a months-long Ukrainian public-relations push to rally U.S. support, be it military assistance or sanctions. Last week, President Obama announced new sanctions against several Russian banks and energy and defense companies. If the latest punitive measures don’t persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to remove his influence in eastern Ukraine, Poroshenko says the U.S. will need to impose higher costs.
“If sanctions will help [the situation],” we should introduce new sanction,” Poroshenko told Amanpour. “If it’s not working, we should maybe ask the United States Congress … to help us solve the security problem.”
Some members of Congress have called for more stringent injunctions against Russia, including imposing sanctions against specific sectors of the Russian economy, such as energy, or providing arms and weapons to the Ukrainian military. For now, the U.S. is sending investigators from the FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board to the plane crash site to aid in an international investigation.