tv Ronan Farrow Daily MSNBC July 17, 2014 10:00am-11:01am PDT
malaysia's prime minister. ronan farrow takes up our coverage right now. you are watching msnbc's continuing coverage. let's get you up to speed on where we stand right now in this malaysian passenger plane's case. it is reportedly crashed in eastern ukraine near the volatile border with russia. that flight was en route from amsterdam to kuala lumpur with 295 souls on board. 280 of them passengers. 15 of them crew. amateur video circulating on social media is showing what could be the plane crash. nbc news hasn't independently confirmed that that is what you are seeing but that appears to be the case. officials on site are reporting, according to the wires, at least 100 bodies scattered near that devastating scene. and wreckage scattered for up to nine miles around it. at this time, no one has claimed responsibility. pro-russian rebels in ukraine
say they did not shoot down the airliner. blaming instead ukrainian armed forces. meanwhile, ukrainian president petro poroshenko is quoted saying his country's armed forces didn't shoot down the plane. a lot of confusion right now. a lot of volatility. we're going to go to a number of experts on different facets of this. joining me to start things off, msnbc aviation analyst and pilot john cox. thank you for being here. first of all, tell us right off the bat, what does this crash look like to you? >> well, it is still very, very, very early. one of the tell-tale signs is the size of the debris field being pretty large as reported. and that could indicate that something happened in flight. and what i mean by that is the airplane didn't impact the ground in a single piece. so i think that's something that everyone, the investigators are going to look at very carefully. and i want to urge some caution about making sure we have a good
understanding and verified data because right now we -- it's a lot of this is single source information. and it's very early. we need to be careful with it. >> thank you so much, mr. cox. we also have jim cavanaugh, an nbc and msnbc analyst and atf special agent in charge. he's been involved in a lot of terrorist situations and negotiations in terrorism cases. jim, when you see this kind of a brutal attack, potentially, as the facts seem to be developing in support of, what do you attribute that to? do you think this is a spillover from this region being as volatile as it is? >> well, you know, ronan, just like john said, i'm with john and like you've been talking about and andrea mitchell earlier, it's just too early to be definitive about what happened. so investigatively, you know, what you are trying to do is look at possible things that could happen. and you are going to try to gather that date. you know, jim miklaszewski from
the pentagon talked about trying to get their satellite information. so i think the militaries of the world and the intelligence agencies of the world are going to know if a missile was fired or not. so they may be able to tell that no missile was fired. and that also moves the investigation to a different point. so, you know, could be something else. >> you are correct in saying we still don't have all the facts and we'll be looking at the intelligence closely. we'll come back an the questions as to whether this is a terrorist attack. right now i want to go to kristen welker at the white house. our nbc correspondent there. kristen, you have new information now from the white house briefing room, i understand. what is that? >> ronan, we just learned that president obama during his phone call with russian president vladimir putin earlier today, and i'm just going to read this from a report that just came out. this is according to white house press secretary josh earnest who says i can confirm that president putin near the end of this morning's phone call with president obama noted the early
reports of a downed passenger jet near the russian/ukraine border. so just for some context there, president obama and president putin had a phone call earlier today to discuss those sanctions that the u.s. brought against russia yesterday that president obama announced yesterday. that was the big news, ronan, yesterday. so we are learning now that during the end of that phone call, president putin did, in fact, raise the point and note that there are reports of this downed malaysian airlines flight. just to recap what we know from the white house, ronan. at this hour, according to white house press secretary josh earnest, president obama has been briefed an that reports of the downed malaysian airlines flight. but the white house at this point saying that they are not in a position to confirm any of this early reporting. they are monitoring the situation quite closely, of course. president obama has directed his senior administration officials to be in close contact with senior officials in ukraine as they continue to monitor this developing story.
president obama just moments ago touched down in delaware for a previously scheduled event. later this afternoon, he's going to discuss the economy, infrastructure projects. white house officials saying at this point in time there are no plans for president obama to speak to the reports of this downed malaysian airlines flight. however, this is a fluid situation so that could change. and i would just add this one note, ronan. president obama is often quite cautious before he addresses the nation to address something like this. a developing story. one white house official saying that they are monitoring these breaking developments along with the rest of us and there are still a lot of questions. so i think the president won't address the nation, won't speak to this until he feels as though he has all of the facts. and, of course, they are still in the process of gathering all the facts. still trying to figure out what happened here. president obama was briefed and during that phone call with russian president vladimir putin during which the two leaders discussed sanctions at the very end of that call, putin did note
the reports of this downed malaysian airlines flight. >> thank you so much, kristen welker per that helpful update. the surrounding context of this is a particularly fraught moment in that relationship. the call being already about the most severe sanctions we've imposed yet. we'll see how this latest fact pattern affects that. we'll come back to you for more updates. i want to go to nbc news terrorism analyst evan coleman. when you look at this fact pattern, the debris scattered on the ground. it's purportedly social media footage of that crash, does this look like terrorism? >> it's almost certainly not. i think this goes to the how high the airplane is flying. look. everyone has seen the video from insurgents in iraq where you see guys holding shoulder fired surface to air missiles. they are firing with planes landing at baghdad airport. this was an aircraft, a commercial cruising altitude, 30,000 feet. this was taken out by a missile
system that specifically designed to take out high altitude flying aircraft. it's a military system. it requires sophisticated radar. the missiles themselves are large. you couldn't fire one of these off your shoulder. so in terms of, is it possible that a terrorist group could have -- is there any remote possibility could have done this? i'm not aware any of terrorist group that has this kind of equipment or if they had it -- >> thank you so much, evan, for that context. that's a fascinating point about the technical wherewithal potentially required for an attack like this. stay with us because we're going to be tackling every facet of this as we go an. the rest of our panel, hang there for a minute. we have a breaking development from tom costello. our nbc correspondent who covers transportation and aviation extensively. and helped us out covering the malaysia airlines crash before this. right now reports are that's unrelated. tom, tell us about the latest information you are getting. >> let me reset this, if i could. i've been on the network side on a special report so i apologize if i'm repeating. i think it's worth reporting what we know at this point.
that is that malaysia airlines says it is not confirmed from its perspective that this plane has been shot down. it knows that it lost contact. it says it's launched an immediate investigation. the ukrainians are saying this plane was shot down. ukraunian government versus the ukrainian separatists are exchanging accusations about which side may have brought this plane down. but i think as you look at the images that we have seen of this plane and there are reports from reporters on the scene that the debris is over a wide area. nine square miles or so. that would be -- that would be in keeping with the notion that's the plane came apart at altitude. if the plane had literally gone into the ground because it had lost power, then you would see a very confined debris field. but because the debris field is wide and spread out over nine miles, that certainly gives the idea that this plane was shot down a little more credence. we don't have confirmation on
that but many reports out of the area saying it was shot down. to the point about what kind of hardware would shoot this plane down, if possible, absolutely right. your previous guest was saying a shoulder fired missile couldn't do it. that's right. this plane, according to flight tracker.com was at 33,000 feet on the transit route from amsterdam to kuala lumpur. to hit a plane at 33,000 feet, you need one of those massive missiles that you see on the back of a trailer that may have been pulled through red square. and, in fact, early reports from the ukrainians suggested that a buk missile, b-u-k, may have been fired from the ground to the plane. well, a buk missile is a soviet era missile that was pulled through the likes of red square on those big tractors. that's the kind of hardware we're talking about. again, every side right now is blaming the other side. nobody claiming responsibility. probably safe to say nobody
intentionally shot down a malaysia airlines flight traversing the area. i'm guessing whoever put that hardware there is now trying to hide it and get it out of the area as quickly as they can. 295 passengers and crew members on board this flight. no survivors. and, of course, this harkens back to malaysia airlines 370 that disappeared 4 1/2 months ago. all of the thinking on that plane was that it was a rogue incident inside the plane, probably in the cockpit. somebody intentionally turned malaysia flight 370 around and then they crashed it into the south atlantic -- south indian ocean. but so far, no debris, 4 1/2 months later from malaysia 370 and those 239 passengers and crew members. now this unrelated incident, ukrainian/russian border and malaysia flight 17 going down in what initial reports suggest was the result of hostile action. ronan? >> tom costello, you mentioned how volatile this surrounding area is. this happened relatively close to this border where the air
space is volatile, where many commercial airliners in the united states have avoided that air space. any answer as to why a commercial airliner would have taken this particular route? >> this route is preferred because it's the direct route from point a to point b and you burn the least amount of fuel. but you're right. a notice to airmen from the faa that went out back in april when russia was seizing crimea suggesting that a u.s. airline should avoid this area. and they have. u.s. airliners do not fly over this area. lufthansa announcing it's going to avoid the area as well. i suspect you'll hear from most major carriers now that they'll avoid traversing that area. so i would expect announcements from the major european carriers and probably as well from major asian carriers that they are no longer going to fly over this particular region. but as to why malaysia airlines might have been flying over that area, we simply don't know. we haven't had a news conference with them yet to put that question to them.
i would imagine that would be one of the first questions they receive. >> tom costello, you are a great help in making sense of this. the latest we're receiving from malaysian airlines, they are not yet confirming the exact nature of the fate of this flight but they are saying they received notification from ukrainian atc that they lost contact with flight mh-1730 kilometers from the tamak way point. we'll be following this closely from every angle. i want to go back to john cox, our aviation expert here helping us keep track of this situation and also a former pilot. john, tell us about the route that was chosen here. we were just talking about this with tom costello. how dangerous is this particular route given that it's flying directly over what is essential l essentially a war zone. >> it's important to notice there had been a notice to airmen to exercise extreme caution in the area but the air space was not closed. it was not prohibited.
and there were other airlines that were using it. the thing to recognize is that an airliner on an established route is very clear and it is -- it has a signature. it's at the correct altitude, it's on the correct route. it's doing exactly what air traffic control and it have agreed to do. it is obvious that it's not a threat. so if there's a misidentification, it's going to have been a gross misidentification because the airplane is, as reported, it was on the route it was supposed to be. at the altitude it was supposed to be. it was in contact with air traffic control. so it's hard to describe exactly how dangerous, per se, this route was. obviously, the airline had made the decision that it was an acceptable route to fly. they believed it to be safe. in light of the potntial events of today, i agree with tom costello. i think a number of airlines are going to avoid the region in its entirety until things settle
down. >> all right. thank you for that overview of the aviation challenges. we want to take a quick look at the surrounding context on the grond. why this air space was this dangerous and why there are so many accusations being traded both ways on the ukrainian and russian side of this. for that, i go on set here to jonathan alter. he's one of our political analysts here at msnbc and a fine reporter. thank you both for being here. i'll start with you, jonathan. this follows on a series of beats in the combat essentially between the separatists and the ukrainian authorities here. and even today some confirmation from ukrainian authorities that there may have been a previous plane downed. that was a plane that -- a war plane that went down yesterday. how does this latest event of a commercial airliner going down fit into that context? >> the ukrainian security council announced last night that a -- they believe, according to them, a russian aircraft fired an air to air
missile that downed a ukrainian fighter plane with the pilot ejecting to safety, but the plane was destroyed. now we don't have confirmation of that. but what it is is an indication of the heated war footing that this region is on. it's a tinderbox, and an incident like the one today would inflame this region. this is the larger story here. how to contain this so that it doesn't spread. because sometimes wars do get started. we know 100 years ago, for instance, in 1914, world war i was kicked off when, you know, the arch duke france ferdinand. he wasn't even running the austri hungarian empire. the heir was assassinated in sarajevo and set off a chain
reaction of events. we're no longer in a bipolar world the way we were when, say, korean airliner 007 was shot down by the soviets in 1983. or when france's gary powers, the u-2 pilot flying an american spy aircraft was shot down by the soviets in 1960. in those cases, if you got the president of the united states and the secretary general of the soviet union on the phone, they could at least begin to ratchet things down. this is such a multidimensional situation that it is emblematic of the post-cold war world we're in. nina, i want to come to you on what's next and how both sides respond. kristen welker is at the white house keeping track of the situation. the president we've learned just in the past hour has had a phone
call with vladimir putin. that was predominantly to discuss the latest sanctions on russia. but it appears they also discussed this situation. are you hearing anything on what if any, action the united states is going to take to assist in the response to this? >> we do know that president obama has directed his national security team to be in direct and immediate contact with senior officials in ukraine. that is as far as the white house will go at this point. but i would anticipate that as a part of those conversations, the white house is offering any assistance that it can provide as ukrainian officials try to get to the bottom of exactly what happened over its air space. and again, president obama was briefed on the reports about the downed plane earlier today. i just reached out to top officials with the national security team. they say at this point they don't have any more indication about what may have brought down this plane. but, of course, that is the question they are trying to determine. and that is among top things
they are talking to ukrainian officials about, ronan. we know this administration monitoring this situation and, of course, president obama in delaware right now on a previously scheduled trip which will focus on the economy, on infrastructure. he's going to speak in about an hour announcing new infrastructure projects. white house officials say at this point in time he has no plans to address the reports of the downed plane, but that could change. this is a fluid situation. at this point in time, there are too many question marks for the president to address the nation about this right now. so he wants to take a measured, cautious approach before he actually appears before the nation. so at this point, they are monitoring the developments. and i anticipate we will hear from him at some point over the next 24 hours, if not today later on. >> appreciate that update. it will be interesting to see how the president navigates this politically and the interest for so many americans, what are the implications for international
security here. on that secretary i'm going to go to jim cavanaugh who is back with us. he's one offer nbc news, msnbc analysts with a particular focus on terrorism and experience in that area as a former atf special agent. mr. cavanaugh, tell us, what do you think this tells us about the ability of international -- individuals traveling an commercial flights to traverse this region going forward? are people correctly going to be more reluctant to take these routine flights that pass over this volatile air space? >> that's a great point. these conflict areas, you know, separatists, insurgents are in position of missile batteries that can reach that altitude. that's clearly a change in the game. areas where people have small arms, they can't take down big airliners. they don't have the capability. even shoulder fired missiles only have a certain altitude
raung range. this plane apparently was flying at 30,000 feet. so, you know, not many people have the capability to shoot down an aircraft at 30,000 feet. and so your questions to evan coleman earlier, the terrorist analyst, could it be terrorism? well, terrorists would really have to be on board to be able to do that or to have one of these larger missile systems an the ground. so it's pretty unlikely that terrorists would have the missile system on the ground that we know november tof in th. we know who is at war there, the ukrainian and russian elements. that's a more likely, if it was a missile, as you've cautioned and we've all cautioned. if it's terrorism, and i think that's highly unlikely, but what's the motive to take down a malaysian aircraft? who is after malaysia? it doesn't make any sense that it's something on board or a terrorist group. it just doesn't fit anything. they aren't trying to target
malaysian aircraft that we know of. we don't know yet. john cox was right on talking about about the aviation issues, the debris field. but investigators have been cautious but don't put your head in the sand. investigators look at the big picture. this is over the war conflict area. there's groups with vehicles that have, you know, buk-mounted missile systems or others, for example, and our intelligence and satellite capabilities and our military complex can tell. you'll know if a missile was fired or not. and that will be a big piece for the investigation. can they tell you whether it was fired or not fired. and then you can go from there. >> jim cavanaugh, thank you. that gets s >> jim cavanaugh, thank you. that getsets up one of the big pressing questions. who could have shot this down? i'm going to go to lieutenant barry mccaffrey. tell us, general, what kind of
military capacity would be necessary to shoot down a plane like this? we're seeing accusations traded an thekrainian side of this. what do you think the likely perpetrator in all of this is? >> i'd repeat the typical caveat that all the commentaries have been using that we don't yet know all the facts. a couple of comments, though. at 33,000 feet, you can't see or hear aircraft almost ever. to get acquired by radar, these engagements are by radar. a commercial aircraft is beeping, the whole identification, friend or foe. commercial aircraft are easy to see. programmed path, programmed height. you can pick them out. so first observation is, this is more likely to have been a missile engagement from a separatist unit inside the ukraine than from a russian anti-aircraft unit that's part of a battalion and brigade and
has controls on it. that would be one observation. second thing is we should know immediately that there was a missile launch and the site from which it was fired. and i personally heard, you know, missiles off the ground in the gulf war, when our satellites immediately get the hot spot. so i think we already know that it was a missile launch, if it occurred, and from where it was fired. and my guess it's not russian. it's inside the separatist zone. the russians have been pushing sophisticated equipment across the border. this sa-17, the buk missile is a self-propelled outfit. it's supposed to be part of a battalion. so you probably got some poorly trained people trying to operate a system. they would have thought they were engaging a ukrainian national air force aircraft or something along those lines. >> again, the facts are unclear at this point but we're watching every detail. that's a fascinating theory from general barry mccaffrey.
this could have been a target that wasn't intended to be struck and the may be more likely perpetrators are separatists within the country. i want to go to nina, a professor at the new school and an expert on this region. what do you think separatists if indeed this was a deliberate effort, and if, indeed this came from them. these are both assumptions at this point, would hope to achieve from striking de ining commercial airliner like this. >> i agree that most likely, it was just a very inept act of attacking something because that's what they've been doing. on monday, the cargo plane was shot down. then yesterday the fighter jet. so it does seem to be part of the same plan that they have that ukrainian -- ukrainian airplanes are up in the air and we are going to shoot. i don't imagine when what i know from that region or those who
fight the separatist war, these are not particularly greatly trained people. and so it is very, very likely that it is just some horrible mistake and i actually wouldn't even dismiss the possibility that also from the russian side because the russian troops are trained so well and we do know that actually the russian troops are being pulled back to the border. but i would imagine if i speculate, it is somebody's very inept action that became a mistake and really became a huge headache, not just for putin, poroshenko, but the whole international community. but also problem with our safety as well. >> you mentioned not ruling out the possibility this could still have come from the russians. that's exactly what president poroshenko is doing. he's just released a statement on his website. it reads in part as follows. "in recent days it is already the third tragic accident after the downing of planes of the ukrainian armed forces. an-26 and su-25 from the russian territory. we do not exclude that the given plane was also shot down and
emphasize that the armed forces of ukraine didn't commit any actions to strike the targets in the air." jonathan alter, where does this leave the already incredibly tense conflict across this region? >> well, in some ways, it obviously worsens it in the short term. but it also offers some opportunities, if it was a mistake. if you had elements using russian hardware that were out of the control of the russian military. i think that might explain why president putin brought it up in his call with president obama today. wasn't trying to hide it. so air defense systems, radar systems, are prone to error. even the united states made a terrible error and shot down an iranian commercial airliner about 25 years ago. they just in a tense situation, you have the potential for human
error. or in this case, it might be, and again, we're stressing that we're speculating here, it could be some command and control issues within air defense systems. so if this does turn out to be a tragic mistake, ironically, that actually gives the various parties an opportunity to find some common ground in the loss of life and start to try to cool things don a bit. >> we have some breaking news right now before the tackle those important questions we just raised about the broader regional questions. malaysia airlines is going to hold a press conference shortly at 4:00 local time. we're going to be bring you updates as we lead up to that. i want to go to kristen welker at the white house. we've just been talking about how this fits into this regional
conflict, kristen, and how this could exacerbate tensions, whether it is ultimately atributed to russian separatists or -- >> i think you've characterized it exactly contributely, ronan. and i think the burden on the white house is huge. relations between the u.s. and russia are perhaps at their frostiest that we have seen really in decades. just yesterday president obama announcing the stiffest sanctions against russia yet. the administration accusing russia of ramping up its military incursion in eastern ukraine. ramping up its support of the separatists in eastern ukraine. so just yesterday, president obama announcing new sanctions that are aimed at having a big bite on russia's economy. we also know that four top russian officials were sanctioned as well. so that phone call earlier today between president obama and president putin was to discuss those sanctions.
their relationship has been incredibly tense over the past year. not just because of the crisis in ukraine, but because of edward snowden, because of disagreements over the crisis in syria. so this is a relationship that is incredibly important to this administration. that it would like to be able to repair for the sake of dealing with some of these international crises, but this will undoubtedly add a whole new dimension to what is already an incredibly difficult, fraught and strained relationship between the u.s. and between russia. some republican lawmakers on capitol hill already saying that if russia is in any way engaged in what happened hire with this malaysian airline flight, the u.s. needs to consider tougher sanctions. there's going to be a lot of pressure on president obama to not only find out exactly what happened but potentially to take action once all of the facts are known.
but again, and i want to underscore this point, the administration saying president obama has been briefed on the reports of the downed plane but they say it's just too early for them to confirm any of those reports. and ronan, as i just said, i was speaking to officials with the national security team who say they just don't know who is behind this. so a lot of unanswered questions, but i think that to your point, this certainly adds a whole new dimension, a whole new level of pressure to -- >> thank you, kristen for that update. we're going to bring you live to the state department who is briefing us on this matter. this is the state department spokeswoman. >> -- also in close contact with the ukrainian authorities on this incident. at this point, those are all the details that we have. >> jen, so you've seen the reports apparently coming from the manifest that there were 23 u.s. citizens on board. even if you don't know if that's actually correct, can you say whether you have that information from the manifest
that apparently there were 23 u.s. passengers -- >> we've seen the public reports. i spoke to our team right before i came out here. we don't have any additional details at this point on american citizens. we're looking to, of course, obtan that information. as soon as we have it available, we'll make it available to all of you. >> as the secretary, we know that the president was -- spoke to president putin this morning about, not this, but the plane came up. has the secretary made any calls to anyone in russia, anyone in ukraine that you are aware of? >> not at this point. obviously, this just happened a couple of hours ago. we can keep you updated as well on any additional calls he makes this afternoon. >> does he plan to? >> i don't have any planned calls to predict for you, but, you know, if any calls happen, we can make sure those are available to all of you. >> the crimean foreign ministry is saying they have reason to believe this not just a guess but based on their assessment, that this was a russian-made buk
missile that is in the hands of the russian separatists. you also have chatter on twitter about some of the separatists saying they did shoot down a plane. has your team on the ground spoken to the ukrainians? have they told you this is your assessment, that this their assessment and you just want to getti your own confirmation? >> as i mentioned, we're in touch with ukrainian authorities on this incident -- >> they've obviously shared this assessment with you? >> i don't have further read outs but we're discussing reports and, obviously, a range of comments that have been out there. we don't have our own confirmation of details. i can't predict if and when we will but, obviously, events are very fluid on the ground. we don't have any more information from here to share. >> because given the fact that it is very fluid and it's very early, i mean, there is already a kind of -- some common wisdom
that says separatists have done it. just to confirm, is this your belief? you don't have confirmation of that? do you have suspicions of that at this point? >> i'm not going to speculate on this for obvious reasons. we don't have any additional details to share other than confirm -- other than the reports you've seen about the plane crash. in terms of the causes, the individuals on board, i have nothing else here from the u.s. government. >> the ukrainian transport planes that were shot down in the last week, maybe in the same area. i mean, is that something that you are looking at in terms of this could be a similar mistaken -- >> i'm just not going to speculate further for obvious reasons. >> -- what actually happened, whoever or whatever was responsible for it, is it correct that this type of missile that elise just mentioned, the buk missile, was among the -- sorry? >> i could have said that wrong, but -- >> however you pronounce it. this was among the weaponry that you have said over the past course of the past month or so,
that had been transiting from russia, from these military facilities sites in southeast -- in western russia, sorry. in western russia to the separatists in ukraine? >> i'm happy to check that, but i also note that we don't have confirmation that that is the cause or the source of the plane being -- >> i understand that. but are these missiles that the ukrainians say were responsible for this plane, are those the types of missiles, apart from this incident, that you were complaining had -- that the russians had been sending into ukraine. >> i'm happy to check with our team an that information separately from this particular incident -. >> isn't it true that one of your concerns is that the russians have been doubling down on their -- increasing their supply of weapons to the separatists? >> we've stated that publicly
and still have a concern about that. there's a difference between making unfounded or unconfirmed -- >> i understand, but without talking about the specific buk missile or something, has it been a concern that the russians have been supplying them with truck-mounted or shoulder fired missiles? >> we have expressed concern about it in the past, elise. that hasn't changed. >> particularly those types of missiles? >> i would point you to past comments we've made about them. >> the russians are escalating the conflict in this area and they've added to the tensions there. so whoever is to blame ultimately for this downing of the airliner, is there some sort of responsibility borne by moscow for the situation as it exists in the area? >> i think broadly speaking, matt, the fact we announced yesterday a new round of sanctions, including several defense companies, several energy companies, speaks to our level of concern about the
eskalatory actions we continue to see from russia. however, we don't have enough information with the specific incident and that's why i'm not going to be able to provide you any confirmation of details and i don't want to speculate on who is to blame or the root causes when we don't have that information at this point. >> speaking of the climate. the climate of conflict that's escalated there and obviously led to this tragedy. >> well, again, we don't know that at this point in time because we don't know what the causes are or who was responsible for the plane going down. >> and what, if any, assistance would the administration provide for an investigation of this incident? >> it's too early to say. and we have traditionally or historically provided a range of assistance. you are familiar with the assistance we provided when the malaysian plane disappeared. but we can keep you all up to date an whether there's a request made and a request granted from our end. >> given the fact that it did -- this plane did fall down in
separatist territory, clearly those separatists are not equipped, capable to launch -- i see that they've said that they'll try and help with an investigation. but given the fact that they clearly don't have any type of capability to launch any type of investigation, i think they might have control over the black boxes. i mean, how do you see the ukrainians and how can you help navigate ensuring that there is an investigation? >> we're in close touch with the ukrainian authorities. if there are requests made, we will keep you all abreast of whether we are providing assistance and what kind of assistance we're providing. >> any americans on board? >> i can't at this point in time and again, this just happened so recently, lucas. but we are happy to provide all of you with that information as soon as we have any details to confirm. obviously, we're seeking that information as we speak.
do we have any more? okay. okay. go ahead, matt. >> apart from this incident, just generally speaking, a situation in the east, i presume, but please tell me if i'm wrong, that you still have the same concerns and the same issues with the russians that you did yesterday that led to the imposition of the new sanctions. >> correct. >> is that correct? >> yes. >> and you haven't seen any movement by them towards meeting -- toward meeting the -- what has been asked of them? >> in the last 24 hours? no. >> and then i'm not sure if you had a reaction. i don't think you did because it happened so late, but to the eu's move. which they said that they would have new sanctions by the end of the month. is that okay with you guys? is that -- >> as you know, they placed some
restrictions. they took steps yesterday to impose costs an the russian economy. we have been doing these, including yesterday, in close coordination with the eu. they moved also to put in place the legal framework needed to impose costs an russian companies that undermine ukraine's stability and territorial integrity with an end of july deadline for naming the first list of entities. and certainly we were coordinating closely with them. we were in close touch with them. we certainly welcome these steps that the europeans have taken in this regard. i'm sure you have the details. i'm happy to outline those for you if you have any questions. >> one of the companies hit by the sanctions yesterday was the clut nik
klishnikov company. do you have any comment on that? >> let me first say that clearly as we were making decisions about sanctions, as it relates to here or any around the world, we take into account the impact on the united states, on u.s. businesses and consumers. and certainly we feel that peace and political stability and respect for international law are of critical importance to the global economy and to u.s. businesses. but let me give you some specific examples of the precautions that we take. the sanctions we imposed yesterday were deliberately crafted to limit to the extent possible -- >> we are bringing you live coverage of this devastating crash of malaysian air flight 17. that was jen saki, the state department spokesperson. not confirm anything new facts but responding to some tough questions about reports from authorities within ukraine that 23 u.s. citizens may have been on board that flight. we'll be keeping you updated an
that conference and all the response from the u.s. government. this is malaysian air flight 17. a boeing 777 with 295 individuals on board. 280 of them passengers. 15 crew. the wreckage you see there has been reported to be a nine-mile radius, suggesting that this plane went down from a great height, potentially 30,000 feet to the point it would have been at that flight. we're seeing dozens of bodies reported to be scattered around that smoldering wreckage. a real scene of devastation and tough questions for authorities who have just slammed russia with some of our harshest san e sanctions yet. it is reported the president addressed this downed plane in his conversation. we heard the state department decline to confirm any new details about those purportedly 23 u.s. citizens the interior ministry adviser from ukraun says could have been on that flight. do you think there's maybe
pressure on the president to change his plan today and address this? >> i think there's going to be a lot of pressure on president obama to address this, if not today, by the end of the week, ronan. i think you are absolutely right about that. given the fact that there may have been as many as 23 u.s. citizens on board, certainly folks in this country are going to want to hear from the commander in chief. i think there's going to be a lot of pressure on this administration to get enough facts so that they feel comfortable so that president obama feels comfortable addressing the nation. you heard jen saki stress that. that they are focused an trying to confirm who exactly was on board the flight and you also heard her get a lot of tough questions about who was behind this. the fact that that plane went down in separatist air space. how might that change the equation in ukraine? it certainly could, ronan. that would be significant. and you heard, of course, a lot
of tough questions about russia. so i think that the administration officials are going to be certainly on the phone throughout the day trying to get answers to some of those questions. the other point i would note, ronan, you heard jen saki reference the u.s. response to the malaysian airlines flight 370 that went down. we saw that robust response from the u.s. to try to help with the search and recovery. she signaled that we might see something similar in this case. so i wouldn't be surprised if by the end of the day or tomorrow the u.s. did make an announcement about sending some forces in there to help with the search efforts there, recovery efforts there. >> thanks, kristen. we'll be watching that response closely. we're looking at these pictures of devastation. a nine-mile square radius with bodies, with debris strewn around on the ground. we have here an set nina krushneva. one of the tough lines of
questioning was the type of missile used here. potentially buk missiles. how prevalent are those missiles in the region? >> they've been already used by the russian side or allegedly by those who are supported by the russians. so it is very, very possible that's exactly the missile that was used. and i, as i go back to my original point that i do think that probably somebody from the russian side more likely used it than the ukrainian separatists because they're not trained to do it but the russian troops are. it could be something that got out of control and some very vigorous somebody, lieutenant, decided to help out the ukrainians. so it is that in itself is very dangerous. and i think jonathan pointed out that this is -- not only that it is not de-escalation. it actually creates a much larger international problem. and much larger terrorist problem or terrorist issue for all of us. >> the stakes are so high for the region. obviously, this ramps up fears
for all international travelers. we're looking at these scenes of devastation from the grond. we're awaiting a press conference from malaysian airlines. they are going to be briefing the world on the latest in the investigation at 4:00 p.m. eastern time here in the u.s. we'll be bringing you the details an that. and we're just being told that we have new video right now. take a look at this. john cox, we're looking at this video of the crash site. again, we can't confirm a lot of details. we know that you can't see this video right now but we're looking at a smoke cloud with three white streaks in it. what could that signify? is that falling debris potentially? why would that still be the case this long out after the crash? >> that large of smoke plume could indicate -- could be consistent with a large aircraft accident. there's a lot of fuel on the airplane. if it's ignited if the wings came down and basically large
pieces, there could be a fair amount of fuel there. and we don't know when these pictures were taken. >> this is from immediately after the crash. so it makes sense we'd have that large smoke plume you are describing. >> it could be. the fact that -- >> -- >> the thing that tells me the most is the nine-mile diameter -- reported nun-mile diameter debris field. that's consistent with an in-flight breakup, not with the airplane being in a single piece when it impacted the ground. so it appears that whatever occurred here, occurred in flight. and if you look back in the 777's history, it has never had an in-flight breakup. this indicates that something very, very abnormal and unusual occurred. >> and again, we're looking at specifically these white plumes, three streaks in the middle of that smoke cloud descending almost like streamers. we'll be keeping tabs on what that signifies. jonathan alter, we're looking at
potentially an incident that could inflame an already intense international situation here on that border. what do you think the president needs to say right now to parties an both sides to keep this from being a spark that explodes this powder keg in the region? >> i think this is one of those moments where the president is going to have to come out and talk to the american people and the world probably by the end of the day would be my -- i guess, even if there's not a lot of new information, justi to update people on what we know. what the united states government knows at this time. but i do think in the days ahead, the real pressure is going to be on vladimir putin. and we're going to see whether he -- if these were russian forces and there are some preliminary indications that they would be the only ones who would have the kind of hardware to take a plane down from 33,000 feet in this area. if it is connected to russian forces, will he come clean about it and apologize?
or will he try to blame it on the ukraunians? we don't know. we don't know which direction he's going to go. but for all the pressure on president obama, it's really president putin who is in the hot seat on this one. he could lose tremendous credibility if he doesn't handle it right. so sometimes we tend to assume that, you know, whatever putin does is always going to be in his own wily interest and we're the ones that can't get it together. he's the one who is going to be under pressure in this situation. >> it certainly ramps up the stakes for everyone involved. we'll see how much further the united states is willing to go. we've already imposed just lenie recently this new round of sanctions. we'll be keeping track of that. we also have jim cavanaugh here, former atf investigator. when you look at this situation. we're again looking at these recorded from the time of the crash scenes on the ground. we're seeing these strange
streamers. may indicate it blew up in the air. that seems to be the consensus from experts we're talking to so far. when you look at these scenes, tell us right now, jim, what on the ground is the correct response? what challenges are first responders still facing there? >> you know, this is going to be a lot of answers here that are going to be easily achieved by investigators. i agree with john cox that the evidence that we know now, nine-mile debris field may indicate the breakup at altitude as opposed to a crash into the ground. also the video feed you're showing, that black plume of smoke is fuel. that's fuel. i've seen lots of fires. investigated lots of arsons and bombings and that's fuel burning there. so you know, the plane breaks up. the wings are loaded with fuel and it comes down pretty rapidly. >> do you have any instincts having seen these confligerations as to what the
white streaks may be? we're duet getting a lot of viewer inquiries. >> it may be pieces of debris from the aluminum aircraft. could be any part of the of the aircraft. you know, when they -- a plane explodes, whether it's accidental or criminal or a missile, the explosion is going to be heat and fire and things heat up, they shoot out. it's a result of an explosion, probably metal pieces. it could be remnants of a missile if there's evidence of a missile. so what you see on the ground there, once investigators can get there, if it was a missile, ronan, it's going to be readily apparent from the debris. investigators that are trained like john cox, investigators like we have, they are going to be also to look at this and say it's clearly shot down. also, the radar, the satellites, they will be able to tell if it's a missile. like jen mccaffry said, it takes
radar to hit a plane that high. it's tough to logistically bring a plane down at that altitude if it's a criminal act like a missile from a war. capability is the thing that you have to look at to start the investigation. if it's not accidental, then who has the capability to bring it down? that's the point that you've been discussing with the experts from foreign policy, who would have the capability because you would have to have something that could do it, shelter fire missiles can do it but their altitudes are limited to how far they can go. if the plane was at 33,000 feet,s that going to take one of these larger, like a vehicle-fired missiles. and accidental is not ruled out yet. this is a pretty safe aircraft
flying at altitude, why would it go down? malaysian air has yet to say if they had contact with the plane, was there any disappearance. it's hard to say whether there was or not. foreign affairs experts and the pentagon and white house are trying to come to grips with it. but, you know, take the capability away from insurgent groups, militia groups, people who don't have the military discipline to not shoot down military aircraft. do you want the answer, then we should ask the government, that's the answer. >> and you frame these questions so well. it's all about capacity on the ground right now. we're seeing scenes of devastation. we are waiting for more facts, obvious he look there will be a briefing from the airline at 4:30 eastern time. in the meantime, it's accusations flying and the most
solid basis that we have to go on, who is available for this type of an attack. nina, we have been discussing the various possibilities. if this was separatist, what would they have to gain. we're not saying that's the case but that's the subtext of the ukrainian officials. >> ukrainian officials are saying that the russians have the capabilities to do that. whether it's the russian separatists is irrelevant at this point. of course, the russians or ukrainian separatists would say it's ukrainians because they are the ones flying the jets over the territory. that's another point.
but i think russia has nothing to gain from that, if it is done purposely. >> we're down to the benefit of anyone in the region. we all agree on that. we have andrea mitchell here with an update on that as well. andrea, have we gotten to you at this point? >> yes, indeed. the state department has been briefing at this hour. they have no information as to whether this was an accident, a shoot-down. they don't know. they are investigating. the intelligent officials are going to be briefing the senate intelligence committee. dianne feinstein scheduled a briefing. this is obviously top of mind. john mccain said earlier we don't know what this is but if this were a shoot-down, it had to be a tragic error. it could not be deliberate.
we know that kim has this equipment, also. we shouldn't be jumping to any conclusions. as i know, you have not, as well as our other guests -- we have a readout now of the white house of the president's call with vladimir putin today and that occurred before either of them really know what had happened here. but it was a call that had been previously scheduled to inform vladimir putin of the reasons for the president's decision to impose more sanctions against russia because of the escalating situation in ukraine. the president emphasized that they are committed to a diplomatic solution. sanctions are not his preferred course of action. extensive evidence that russia is significantly increasing the provision of heavy weapons to separatists in ukraine and failure to take other steps to de-escalate the crisis, that it was necessary to impose these
additional sanctions. these are the sanctions, ronan, that was imposed by the united states unilaterally, energy and banking firms. europe was also considering sanctions and considering less imposing sanctions. this could still be escalated if the situation did not improve. obviously we don't know what happened here other than that 295 souls were tragically killed in some kind of a malaysian airline mishap along the russian border in eastern ukraine. >> obviously implications for us with foreign travel. 23 americans were on board that flight. and for the region. i want to go to you with that question. we've seen traffic indicating -- again, msnbc has not confirmed this -- stroke talbot from the
brookings unit said that donetsk boss said that he ordered the shoot-down. you see that tweet there. do you find that credible, in light of your current reporting on this? >> well, it's hard to know because on twitter and in social media we have to always double-check. we put a call in to strobe. strobe was the deputy secretary of state and before that bureau chief for "time" magazine and he has a really distinguished career as a foreign policy observer. i don't know -- that is -- i know that it is his authorized twitter account. i don't know whether he wrote that himself and whether that's his interest. i see it was retweeted by michael mcfaul. >> it seems to be gaining traction. andrea, what do you think the separatists would have to gain? we're looking at this new video that purportedly shows the
moment of action? what would they have to gain? >> well, we don't know who among them would authorize this tweet. it's a little premature to say. either side could be bragging about their ability, about their weaponry in trying to scare the opposition. it's too soon to say whether anyone in the ukrainian military, acceseparatist. i think american intelligence will be able to see the signature of this missile very, very quickly and have a pretty good reading for the senate, the white house and others. and i suspect by tonight we're going to know. >> that's incredibly helpful overview. again, we're keeping track of an incredibly chaotic breaking news situation. mh-17, malaysian airplane shot
down that was headed for kuala lumpur. you can see on the left the latest video that we have reportedly of the moment of impact. it's a nine square mile of debris. bodies are strewn around, according to local reports. we'll give you continuing coverage, including at 4:00 p.m., a press conference from malaysian airlines, 4:00 p.m. eastern time. i hand this over to my colleague, joy reid, who is going to continue with our breaking coverage. breaking news coverage, malaysian airlines flight mh-17, the boeing 777 was carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew members. in just the last hour, the state
department spokeswoman jen sakai was asked about the 23 americans on board. the plane went down near the donetsk region near the russian border. videos on youtube show footage after the plane went down. the plane was shut down by pro-russian separatists, says the ukraine officials. it is similar to this one and we want to emphasize that msnbc has not confirmed that flight mh-17 was shot down. the president has been briefed on the situation. president obama spoke with russian president vladimir putin on the phone earlier today. joining me now, justin green, a former military