Why In my opinion the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine are guilty of shooting down the MH17 airline, why Putin should indirectly be blamed and why the west should answer by increasing sanctions.
*Written in English because I wrote it in a social media discussion with a Russian friend*
Since some time back I have on a regular basis been watching Russia Today (http://rt.com/on-air/rt-america-air/). There is no doubt that perspective is extremely different from mainstream western media. It is also very clear that it is pro the Putin regime. At the same time it is very professional and watching it you could easily confuse it with CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera or any other international news channel. In the case of the crash of the MH17 flight over Ukraine the difference is more than clear. So, what to believe?
One should never blindly trust media, no matter who or from where it is broadcasted from. The political agenda, values and beliefs of the journalists and network will always be there to some degree and journalists are not all knowing and always fully initiated to perfectly analyze situations like the Ukraine crisis. So as always, collecting facts from both sides and making your own conclusion is necessary.
I my view it is completely clear that the separatists are responsible and that Putin has played a crucial role in the conflict. But true or not, this is really not the important point.
Anyhow, to why I think it´s clear that the separatists are guilty of shooting down the plane and that Putin is indirectly responsible.
There are to separate questions here:A) Who shot down the plane? Given location and military capacity of different actors in the region it had to be Ukraine or the separatists (or theoretically Putin himself)
B) In the case it was not the Ukraine government which part did the Putin regime play?
Here is my arguments to the first issue:1. The plane was clearly shot down I separatist controlled areas (since that’s where the plane wreck is)
2. Satellites have registered heat trails emerging from within separatist controlled areas moving toward the plan and disappearing at the same time as the plan was shot down. Clearly this is the missile shooting down the plane
3. The separatist leader Strelkov – as it is written in the article – bragged on social media that they had taken down a military plane at the same time MH17 was shot down. When he realized his mistake he deleted the post.
4. Separatists have hindered independent investigators to do there job. They have still not seen the crash site or the black box which is claimed to have been recovered.
5. Since the separatists does not control military airplanes it is irrational for the Ukraine government to attack any planes at all.
6. The Porosjenko government is fighting for the upholding of democracy, transparency and the upholding of human rights and the rule of law so Ukraine can be a part of the west. The separatists have the opposite agenda.
7. Ukraine has the full backing of the west. Shooting down a commercial airline could potentially change everything to the separatists and Putins advantaged. Considering the not-to-impressive-greatness of the Ukraine military, smuggling in anti-ballistic missiles into separatist controlled areas and getting away with it is almost absurd. The Ukraine government of 2001 was led by the former Soviet politician Kuchma who, if in power, would have been a agent of Putin.
Here is my arguments to the second issue:1. Yanukovych fled Kiev on the 21st of February this year. Less then 1 week after Putins army invaded Crimea. Putin first denied this but later admitted this actually being the case. Therefore Putin has proven that he has direct interests in undermining the Ukraine sovereignty and expanding the territory under his control.
2. Putin has re-stipulated the pre Second World War principle that the invasion of countries is legitimate if he believes any Russian nationals is mistreated.
3. Putin has repeatedly claimed that Ukraine is not a legitimate country and that it should be a part of his domains. He has thus both in practical and ideological matter show that he wants to undermine the Ukraine sovereignty and expanding the territory under his control.
4. Putin has consequently supported separatists both politically and with military material.
5. This way of conduct from Putin is well documented in several other conflicts. Paying thugs and extreme nationalists to stir up uprising was done in Estonia and Latvia, in Moldova, in Georgia and now Ukraine with the explicit intention of creating a situation where he could legitimize intervention.
6. Putin has in almost every political action in his career shown that he despises democracy and the rule of law. That he considers the democratic world to be not his partners but his nemesis.
Either he backs down and looses Ukraine which will tarnish his reputation as a tuff guy leader that wins his battles. Plus the fact that a Ukraine moving westwards and thus becoming a richer and nicer place to live in probably will create more legitimacy for the pro democracy movement I Russia.
Or he continuous on and gets more and more isolated with severe hits on Russian economy duo to sanctions creating big problems for him. A Putin without oil and gas money and without the access to the markets of west will be a not so popular Putin.
Let´s for the sake of argument imagine that the Ukraine government smuggled ABM:s into separatist controlled areas and shot down the plane in an extremely risky conspiracy to “frame” the separatists and Putin. Let´s furthermore assume the will succeed and that Russia will suffer from sanctions and isolation. In a moral sense it would be wrong that the real perpetrators got away, but it would not change the fact that it would still just be yet another of thousands of good reasons (valid for many years) for the Russian people to get rid of its public enemy number one: Vladimir Putin.
Putin is in almost every sense a Bond-like-arch-evil-dictator causing suffer and pain to the Russian people and the people of Ukraine. The thing that makes me most sad about this is that he seems to in some sense have regained the confidence of the Russian people buy playing nationalistic chords. Nevertheless in my view this is not actions of Russia, but actions of the dictator Putin.