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Collins on downed Malaysian jet: World deserves answers
Conflict in Ukraine pits Russia vs. EU, experts say
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Northeast Georgians weighed in Friday to the Malaysian Airlines crash in Ukrainian airspace.

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, said the crash was a “personal tragedy for so many people, and the world deserves answers.”

“The most important step in any American response to this crisis will start with a president who speaks in a definitive way about the inexcusable murder of civilians,” Collins said in an email statement.

Although the cause and culprits remain uncertain, President Barack Obama said in a news conference Friday the role of Russia is paramount in understanding the crash that killed 298 people.

Tensions in the eastern region of Ukraine are heightened, said University of North Georgia political science
associate professor Craig Greathouse, as Ukraine attempts to establish new trade possibilities with the European Union.

“Ukraine needs linkages with Russia because of their energy needs, but at the same time wants linkages with the European Union and the states of the European Union because they’re hoping to get economic development out of that,” he said.

The biggest thing, Greathouse said, will be determining who caused the crash and how.

U.S. officials have said they believe the main perpetrators are pro-Russian separatists.

“There is a significant minority of Russian-speaking nationals, who consider themselves directly connected back to Russia,” Greathouse said. “And Russia has shown a willingness to try and protect those groups.”

On June 27, the EU and the Ukraine reached an economic association agreement in hopes of opening trade markets. Such an agreement and its later evolutions could greatly affect the Ukrainian economy.

“If you look at the history of what the EU has done as it has moved eastward, it has always set these initial treaties to start the trade process, to start linkages,” Greathouse said. “And for many countries, it has eventually led to membership in the EU, and that tends to have a very significant impact on a country’s economy if they join the EU.”

Obama stressed U.S. concerns about the possibility pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine may have shot down the plane.

“We know that they are heavily armed and they are trained, and we know that that’s not an accident,” Obama said. “That is happening because of Russian support.”

While the president mentioned speaking with European heads of state, Greathouse said he believes international involvement will be limited.

“It’s not worth the direct confrontation to many of these states with Russia,” Greathouse said. “Traditionally, that area has been Russia’s sphere of influence, so you’re not going to see a lot of states pushing to get in there. There’s no benefit for them in many ways.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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