For U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, more sanctions against Russia aren’t enough to demonstrate the United States’ fury over Thursday’s crash of the Malaysian airliner in Ukraine.
The plane is believed to have been hit by a Russian-made missile fired by pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine.
Durbin and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., both believe that the bulk of the blame lies with “Putin’s effort to destabilize the Ukraine,’’ as Durbin put it.
To send a message, Durbin says federal officials – and Congress – need to re-examine all of their dealings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government.
“It turns out that one of the most important rocket engines that we rely on to launch satellites into oute rspace… is built by Russians, by a Russian state company,” Durbin told reporters during an unrelated news conference at Boeing Co. “I happen to think it’s time for a new competition for a new rocket engine, I’m hoping that an American company can step up to this challenge.”
Durbin emphasized that he’s serious. He has placed a provision funding such a competition in the latest defense authorization bill now being considered by the Senate.
“To think that Putin’s effort to destabilize the Ukraine has taken almost 300 innocent lives on this aircraft…just shows how out of hand the situation is,” Durbin said.
The senator – who holds the No. 2 position in the Democratic-controlled Senate – said he recently had visited Ukraine. “It was pretty clear that Putin has an ambition to restore the Russian empire,” Durbin said. “And it is also clear to me that he’ll go to any lengths to achieve it. We are going to respond with our sanctions and more.”
McCaskill added that she believed that European nations now are more likely to “present a united front’’ against Russia, since the largest bloc of the aircraft’s passengers were Europeans, mainly Dutch.
Her hope, she continued, is that international outrage will have the effect of “pulling Putin back from the edge and make him realize that there really is not a place where he is going to succeed with this kind of aggressive strategy.”
More money for Growler
McCaskill, Durbin and Rep. Bill Enyart, D-Belleville, were at Boeing to highlight their pleasure at a Senate subcommittee’s action to beef up defense funding for the continued production of Boeing’s Growler aircraft.
The Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, headed by Durbin, put $1.3 billion in a defense spending bill for the Growler. If passed by the Senate and House, the money would pay for 12 more Growlers, and help protect 3,000 Boeing jobs.
Durbin said the save-Growler effort wasn’t just about jobs. The Growler is a version of the F/A F-18 that is outfitted with special equipment to disrupt enemy communications on the ground and in the air.
“This aircraft is critically important for the safety of America and the safety of the United States Navy,” Durbin said. “The mission is more timely than ever and that’s why we included it."
He added that 500 other federal programs were cut or eliminated to find the money for the Growler.