Russian newspaper publishes report claiming Malaysian Air MH17 downed by Ukraine

Outline contradicts original Russian claim missile was fired from Ukrainian military aircraft.

The Moscow independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, has published an account of the downing of Malaysian Air flight MH17, which claims the Boeing 777 was shot down by a Russian-made missile, operated by Ukrainian forces and fired from within Ukrainian-held territory.  According to the report:  “It is most likely that Flight MH17 was destroyed in mid-air by the impact of a 9M38M1 surface-to-air missile, the main missile in the ‘BUK-M1’ system.”

Novaya Gazeta, a newspaper esteemed for its independence, investigative journalism and English translations of foreign newspapers, including the New York Times, is part owned by Russian oligarch, Alexander Lebedev, and former General Secretary of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev.  Both the Novaya Gazeta and Gorbachev are known to be sharp critics of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The narrative published in Novaya Gazeta, which could not be verified by Western media, originated with the judgements of Russian military engineers.  Although the Russian report appears to confirm the preliminary findings of the Dutch Safety Board suggesting the passenger airliner was downed by a BUK mobile missile-defense system, Novaya Gazeta acknowledged suspicions the report was penned with political motives for distribution to Dutch investigators examining the crash.

We quite understand both Kiev’s and Moscow’s dilemma:  Both forces utilize the BUK mobile missile system, admission of wrongdoing would both tarnish images and inflict damage to their cause and neither side is willing to concede error.

A pitiable compulsion for dishonesty with roots in selfishness does not demonstrate good fellowship.  A real expression of a nation’s character is confession of grave sin.  Unfortunately, both Kiev and Moscow have adopted full-throated denials, exploit dilatory tactics and continue to respond to one another with stabbing ripostes.  Whether negligence, a fit of cruelty or an innocent mistake led to the moral atrocity of the downing of MH17, the incoherence of each side’s position represents a callous opposition to accountability on a grand scale.

It is unlikely either Kiev or Moscow will admit culpability.  If Kiev and Moscow continue to cleverly distance themselves from the disgrace of MH17’s downing, the obligation of which we are to resort is reliance on the impartiality of the impending Dutch Safety Board report, due out by the end of 2015.  If Kiev and Moscow continue to reject liability, perhaps the Dutch can clear this mess up and leave the guilty party scrambling for a refuge from the fallout.


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