Thursday 17 July 2014

Why Was the Malaysian Airliner Shot Down?

What a barbaric week. The appalling suffering inflicted on the open air prison that is Gaza, of which more another time. Then there has been a ratcheting up of the conflict in Ukraine as the government offensive grinds down and routs its pro-Russian breakaways. Now, it's taken an altogether darker turn: the shooting down of a Malaysian passenger jet with the deaths of some 300 people over the skies of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic. Amid the tragedy is the pinning of blame. The Ukraine government say they didn't do it, and lack the capability. Russia do have the means, but not the motive and claim it's nothing to do with them. And there are the rebels themselves, who are also playing the denial game.

Najib Razik, the Malaysian prime minister has called for an immediate investigation. And as the passenger manifest is likely to reveal many people from many nations, the pressure for a thorough probe will be irresistible.

Facts have to be established. But already, there has been this:

The statement, from a Colonel Igor Strelkov of the DPR, according to The Interpreter, translates as:
In the area of Torez, we have just shot down an AN-26 airplane, it is scattered about somewhere by the Progress coal mine.

We warned them - don't fly 'in our sky.'

Here is a video confirmation of the latest 'bird drop.'

The bird fell beyond the pit refuse heap, it did not damage the residential sector.

Civilians were not hurt.

There is also information about a second downed airplane, apparently an SU.
It's unclear whether Strelkov was referring to the earlier shooting down of two Ukraine air force combat craft, or the passenger jet. Either way, the statement has since been deleted.

It is difficult to shoot down a jet cruising at an altitude of 10,000 metres. Despite the denials, Ukraine has the fighter craft capability of doing so. And Russia are supplying the separatists with military hardware. Neither side benefits from this tragedy, and in all likelihood it was an awful, awful case of mistaken identity.

Yet what is deeply worrying is why passenger jets were still flying over a warzone that had seen action in the air. Incompetence or commercial expediency? The families of the victims need to know not who is responsible for the death of their loved ones, but how and why they were allowed to be put in harm's way.

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