Russian President Vladimir Putin is responsible for the deaths of 298 people from the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine last month, Rep. Darrell Issa said Wednesday.
"Blood is on your hands, Mr. Putin," Issa, the California Republican who is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote in an opinion piece in The Washington Examiner.
"When a country refuses to respect the sovereignty of another, arms separatists, and fosters a civil war leading to not just the murder of 298 civilians on an airliner but thousands of Ukrainian casualties, one owns those murders. There is no way around that simple and horrible fact.
"There must be repercussions for this heinous and senseless act," Issa said. "The international community must speak with one voice, and the United States must stand tall with our allies."
The Russian president has been emboldened to take such brutal actions by President Barack Obama's ineffective foreign policy, Issa said.
"We are sending the wrong signals to Russia by not acting with strength. The lawless actions of Putin show us the consequences.
"History teaches us that evil spreads when the nations of the world shrink from aggression rather than face it and act decisively to repel it," Issa said.
The U.S. and Ukrainian governments say the Boeing 777 was brought down July 17 by a Russian-made missile fired by eastern Ukraine's pro-Moscow separatists. The separatists deny it — and Russia said it did not provide the Buk missile launcher used to shoot down the plane.
Putin has also said that the Ukrainian military may have shot the plane down.
Investigators failed to reach the site on Wednesday because of the continued fighting in Ukraine, and the United Nations called on both sides to cease hostilities in the area.
In his piece, Issa wrote that Russia's annexing of Crimea in March brought to mind the period when Poland and East Germany became a part of the Soviet Union after World War II.
"They became communist satellites and part of the larger Soviet Empire. Their people were subjugated, not given the choice to determine their own future, forced to live in fear and under the control of the Soviet Union," Issa said.
"We must not allow history to repeat itself. We can stop this same virulent Russian expansionism that we saw then from happening now, if we are willing to act.
"We should not tolerate one nation bullying another simply because one is stronger than the other. Make no mistake, if these actions are tolerated by the West, it will only entice Russia and other expansionist-minded nations to act more aggressively.
"To date, our nation has talked much and done little to address Russia's bullying of Ukraine and the region," Issa said. "By not acting, by not projecting strength and commitment to our allies and friends, we are inviting a resurgence of Russia in an aggressive way."
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