Local Russian American weighs in on Malaysian plane tragedy - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Local Russian American, international relations experts weighs in on Malaysian plane tragedy

Former Navy intelligence officer talks about the investigation into the Malaysian plane tragedy. Former Navy intelligence officer talks about the investigation into the Malaysian plane tragedy.

A New Orleans tour guide is watching as much coverage as she can about the downed Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine.

She is from Moscow, Russia and is torn when she hears speculation that her native Russia has ties to the tragedy that claimed nearly 300 lives, including an American.

"I'm personally very, very sad that now everything have been blamed on the Russian people and Russia," Tatyana Borisova.

Borisova has lived in New Orleans 14 years. It pains her to see the conflict involving Russia's neighbor, the Ukraine.

"We have a huge compassion to Ukrainian people, absolutely," said Borisova.

But she said in recent months her Ukrainian friends here in the U.S. have distanced themselves from her because of the headlines involving the growing conflict thousands of miles away. And now there is the plane disaster.

President Barack Obama said Friday that evidence indicates that the aircraft was shot down by a surface-to-air missile from an area controlled by Russian backed separatists.

"Mr. Putin denied and I do believe him. I hope he's right and it's going to take time for an investigation," said Borisova.

"U.S. Intelligence community has been watching this situation in the Ukraine for a long time," said Michael Wallace, a retired U.S. Navy Intelligence Officer.

He recently worked as an intelligence analyst at the Pentagon and of late is Director of Tulane University's Homeland Security Studies Program.

"What the investigators will be looking for is specific evidence of a missile strike that could include the plane's fuselage itself. The missile system that they believe brought this aircraft down the separatists have been showing this system often, pictures in parades," said Wallace.

He said the incident will re-focus the world's attention to the Ukraine.

Dr. Michael Huelshoff, Ph.d. is an international relations expert at the University of New Orleans. He said sanctions have yet to make Russian President Vladimir Putin bend.

"It's also an economy based on exporting things other people want badly like oil, natural gas, and so it has a degree of immunity from international pressure," said Huelshoff.

Still he believes the U.S. must tread carefully if contemplating any possible military response.

"The United States is already providing some military assistance to the Ukraine and any increase to military assistance to Ukraine would be seen as a provocation by the Russians would encourage them to give any more aid than they already are to the separatists. So that would only fuel the fire if you will," said Dr. Huelshoff.

Borisova hopes everyone will reserve judgment.

"It's very sad. When I'm talking to my Ukrainian friends, nobody can believe that we've got the conflict in 2014 and my personal opinion is that nobody knows the truth so far," she said.

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