While mystery remains behind who fired the surface-to-air missile at Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Mike Morell, CBS News senior security contributor and a former CIA deputy director, said Friday that he agrees with suspicions that the projectile was launched by Russian separatists.
"I think what happened here was the separatists, who have shot down a couple of aircraft this week, believed they were targeting a Ukrainian military transport and they just made a mistake," Morell said.
The CIA's former No. 2 official thinks that once the pieces come together, all roads will point towards the separatists.
"I think we have our own intelligence capabilities: radar tracking, satellite tracking," Morell said. "When you marry that with any information the Ukrainians have, and then when you get to the crash site and you take a look at the aircraft, I think you can put all these pieces together and make a pretty strong case."
Morell also sees the incident as having an unfortunate outcome for Russia President Vladimir Putin.
"I think this is very bad news for Putin, because it's going to force the West, on the one hand, to put much tougher sanctions in place than we've seen so far. The sanctions we've seen so far have been pretty light," Morell said. "And then I think there's a small minority that has not been vocal inside Russia who is opposed to Putin and where he's taking the country. Something like this could lead them to be more vocal and question his leadership."
If separatists did fire the missile, Morell also speculates as to how much involvement the Russian government had.
"So my understanding is they have this Buk [missile] capability which can bring down an aircraft," Morell said. "I think one of the things we have to think about here is the degree of Russian complicity. Clearly they are complicit in that they have encouraged, funded and simply supported the rebels. The question is does the complicity go even further than that? Does the complicity go to Russia actually giving them the system, training the rebels on this system, or even having Russian Special Forces standing them and helping fire the missile? I think we need to figure that out."
With Russia's open border, Morell considers that the separatists may also be completely unaffiliated from the Russian government.
"I think one of the things we talked about in this program is, Putin started this," Morell said. "And has Putin lost control of the movement in Eastern Ukraine? Are these guys are now acting on their own? That's a question as well."