After the Malyasia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down in eastern Ukraine last night, the evidence from both US and Ukrainian officials increasingly suggests that pro-Russian separatists in the region are responsible.
The Buk missile believed to have brought down the plane has already been used by the militants, who receive arms and funds directly from the government in Moscow, to target Ukrainian military jets.
President Vladimir Putin’s assertion – that the fact the incident occurred over Ukrainian airspace means the Ukrainian government are to blame – neatly avoids the real question of who shot down the plane, which is a question likely to lead directly back to Putin himself.
It is abundantly clear that despite Russian denials and promises to deescalate the tension between itself and the Ukrainian government, Mr Putin has continued to supply rebels with increasingly sophisticated weaponry. The tragic loss of 298 lives is a direct consequence of the ensuing instability.
The onus is now on Putin not only to cooperate fully in the investigation but completely end its support for the Ukrainian insurrection that is spiraling out of control. Ensuring that this is the course taken by Russian will require much stronger action from the West than we have previously seen.
HJS Executive Director Dr Alan Mendoza said: “Vladimir Putin’s claim that Ukraine is responsible for this tragedy because it occurred on its soil is preposterous. It highlights his desperation to avoid investigating who was really responsible for this atrocity.
“We know that Russia has been responsible for creating the conditions for this crisis given its support for the separatists in Ukraine. Now this has resulted in yesterday’s horrific events. Russia should help clear up this mystery rather than dissembling about what has happened.”