Netherlands Ukraine Plane

Officials from the Joint Investigation Team probing the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014 appear at a press conference in Nieuwegein, Netherlands, on Wednesday, June 19, 2019. The international investigation team charged three Russians and a Ukrainian separatist with the murder of 298 people on board the plane that was shot down over Ukraine. The case is set to start in March 2020. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)

The Republican president is slow to criticize Russia,  but not a Republican senator from Colorado.

Sen. Cory Gardner on Wednesday blamed the enemy of the U.S. for a "barbaric violation of international law" for a rocket attack that downed an airliner over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

The missile attack killed all 298 people, including 18-year-old American Quinn Lucas Schansman, onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

International investigators named four suspects -- three Russians and a Ukrainian -- for the assault in the region controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

“Despite continued denials from the Kremlin and the Russian-backed rebels on their involvement in the downing of MH17, the international community remains united to uncover the truth and bring justice for the 298 innocent people murdered on MH17, including an American citizen," Gardner, senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.

"It is my hope that today’s report and action by the Dutch authorities brings some closure to the families of the victims of this barbaric violation of international law.

“Russia’s abhorrent actions around the world, including support for terror groups in Ukraine and Syria, the chemical weapons attacks on the soil of a NATO ally, and interference in elections around the world, should be more than enough to formally label Putin’s Russia what it is – a state sponsor of terrorism. With this bill, Congress is demonstrating firm bipartisan resolve against Kremlin’s mendacity and I hope it will move quickly to pass the Senate.”

The designation would carry a list of restrictions on Russia, including on any U.S. foreign assistance, a ban on defense exports and sales and other financial restrictions.

Gardner wrote an op-ed on the subject for the New York Times in April.

According to media reports, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pursued designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism in 2017, soon after a former Russian spy was poisoned in England, but the effort was quickly called off by the Trump administration.

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