“This is a really, really big deal:” Marquette professor, published expert on Ukraine speaks on Thursday’s events

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A Malaysia Airlines passenger jet crashed in a rebel-controlled part of eastern Ukraine on Thursday, spurring swift accusations from Ukrainian officials that "terrorists" shot down the aircraft. The United States has concluded a missile shot down the Malaysia airlines plane, but hasn't pinpointed who was responsible. This, as the Israeli military launched a ground operation into Gaza late Thursday and called an extra 18,000 reservists into the conflict with Hamas. A Marquette University professor has been watching the situation closely -- something he's been doing for a long time.

Dr. Lowell Barrington isn't just the chair of the Political Science Department at Marquette University. He's also an expert on the Middle East. He says Thursday's incidents will almost certainly mean more involvement from European countries and the United States.

"It`s not just between Russia and Ukraine anymore. It`s certainly not a civil war in Ukraine anymore," Dr. Barrington said.

Dr. Barrington spent Thursday watching the news unfold.

For many of us, the conflict in Ukraine hasn't been top of mind, but not anymore.

"This is a really, really big deal -- because when civilian airliners are shot down in conflict, the international community can not sit by at that point," Dr. Barrington said.

Dr. Barrington has been watching the region closely, long before Thursday's plane crash.

A published expert on Ukraine, he calls Thursday's events "game changing."

"If we can show this was Russian separatist or Russian military action that brought down this plane, I think Europe has to get involved more forcefully in sactions, and I would guess we get involved more forcefully in probably supplying the Ukrainian government with more defensive weapons than we`ve been willing to," Dr. Barrington said.

The area where debris lays is controlled by separatists, with a predominately Russian speaking population.

Dr. Barrington says one shouldn't assume who they are getting their orders from.

"I don`t believe that the Russian government or Putin are fully in control of the separatists at this point. That`s one of the things that happens in these kinds of conflicts," Dr. Barrington said.

Even with other major international events going on in the world, Dr. Barrington says it's unlikely this will go away quickly.

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